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Thursday
Aug182016

Ryan Lochte & The Tide Of White Privilege Abroad - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit: NBC Olympics

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games are almost at
their end, and have gone on with all of the drama
one expects from the sporting spectacle and quite
a few standout moments. The International Olympic
Committee probably felt as if they were going to
see it end without any major controversy, given the
global speculation about the safety of athletes and
the fact that Brazil is currently in the throes of a
major political scandal with their former president,
Dilma Rousseff, impeached and awaiting trial under
a cloud of possible corruption from her opponents.
They figured they’d be home free.


Ryan Lochte has proven them wrong.

 

Lochte, the heraled American swimmer along with
his teammates Jimmy Feigen, Gunnar Bentz and
Jimmy Conger claimed that they were robbed at
gunpoint this past Sunday night while returning
from a party at Club France to the Olympic Village.
In first hearing the story, it was curious how Lochte
made this claim and the Rio committee stated that
it wasn’t the case. Even more curious was Lochte’s
claim that he was like, “whatever” when a gun was
pointed to his head. After a few hours in the news,
the incident was picked up by global media and Lochte
faced a barrage of questions. The heat was on, and
apparently too much for him as he left the country.
Which was right before a Brazilian judge ordered that
he face questioning and not leave until he did. This
resulted in Bentz and Conger being pulled from their
flight home last evening. Feigen is still unaccounted
for at last report. And now it’s been found that the
entire “robbery” was one big fat lie, constructed for
the purpose of hiding a drunken altercation at a gas
station that apparently had Lochte and the other three
on tape getting into it with the staff at the station.
Complete with a broken door and pissing on the sidewalk
and cash to cover it all up. Yet there are still media
outlets who won’t call this what it is - criminally negligent
behavior unworthy of an athlete representing their
country. You have Mario Andrada stating that there are
no apologies needed, saying “We have to understand
that these kids are here to have fun.” For the record,
Lochte is 32.

Ryan Lochte has essentially thrown a cherry bomb into
the powderkeg that has been a bit dormant at the core
of these Olympic Games with these actions and further
added to a growing amount of voices questioning why
we should have the Games in the first place. Another
larger issue is at play here. Lochte didn’t just become 
another douchebag dudebro athlete with this. What he
has done is essentially exert a cutlass of privilege. Lying 
about being robbed in a city that has been known to
have an extreme amount of crime for decades is one thing,
but cast in the prism of being a white American in a foreign
city with a significant African heritage is heinous. It is
the triple privilege of being a white American athlete that
allowed him to do this and rope his teammates into it as
well. 

Photo Credit: USA TODAY

There have been precedents for this kind of behavior,
both hundreds of years in the making and now in
the present day. Think about how many stories you
have heard with international incidents of bad behavior
in other nations. How many stories have you heard
like this or this? It’s mainly been those that aren’t of
color, for various reasons. Then there’s an uproar over
how that nation treats them. I’ve been fortunate enough
to travel a bit, and I’ve seen the attitudes of some of
these people firsthand. Especially when they get sloshed.
Think about Brazil, and how much of this they’ve seen
in cities like Rio and Sao Paulo among others. Hell, just
go back to when you were in college and the tales you
heard after spring break. Lochte and these others could’ve
been hurt or hurt someone else, especially with the fact
that they fought a security guards. It’s as if the old maxim “free,
white and over the age” is still in effect. Which makes
this all the more wrong. It does shed a light on what is
deemed important by officials though. And it points out a certain 
hypocrisy among certain media outlets, and from those
here in the States as well who are sitting in bewilderment
over this major fabrication yet found more than a few
words to direct at Gabby Douglas for not holding her hand
over her heart after winning gold with her teammates in
women’s gymnastics. Nasty, hateful words that made her
teary-eyed at a press conference in a moment where the
nation should be lifting her up for representing them with
class and dignity. This incident by Lochte underscores the
sheer arrogance and meanness that unfortunately has
become stock and trade of some of our less humane fellow
Americans that we like to tuck away every four years for
these events. It’s also not a good look considering the 
bad behavior of some of our tourists abroad and even
a few of our Secret Service personnel in the past few
years especially in South America. Lastly, this behavior
rings deadly in a climate where in this country, you have
children of color being shot dead on the assumption that
they are criminals at first glance. What message do you
think this sends if Lochte isn’t held accountable?  

Lochte should be stripped of the medals he earned from
these Games and banned from competition for a year.
But it’s doubtful that will happen. Athletes are useful, until
they aren’t, especially those in the international spotlight.
In an Olympic Games where Black athletes, especially the
women, have proven their excellence once again, it should
behoove the U.S. Olympic Committee to get in front of
this and censure all four for their behavior.  Stem the tide
of white privilege, American style if only a little.  

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Aug032016

Dummies On Demand - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit: TheRapFest


About two weeks ago, the world caught a slight break on Sunday
from the political and social madness. This break came in the form
of two superfans - or super-stupid fans if you will - of Drake who
were so into the ongoing tiff between he and veteran MC and 1/4
of Slaughterhouse, Joe Budden that they decided to prank Joe. By
rolling up on him as he pulled into his driveway. You can guess how
it turned out from the lead photo above, but take a look at the
footage from the vantage point of these trolling buffoons:

 

Budden literally chased them down and had to repeatedly tell
them the next time someone would get seriously hurt. Of course,
he did this while throwing rocks at the car and causing some..
spillage on behalf of the once-brave Drake stans no doubt. He wound
up going to the house of one of the individuals afterwards and
spoke to him along with his parents, stressing to him the dangers
of doing something so outrageously dumb and dangerous. In
an interview after the incident, Joe did note that he had noticed
them hanging around the entire day and that it wasn’t hard
for him to find out where one of them lived:  “Because the Internet
will tell you everything that you need to know about someone.” 
The situation spawned a serious wave of memes that we all
enjoyed including Budden. Hell, he’s even making some paper
off of it
. But the underlying tone to this situation is one that 
should really make you pause. Especially when in combination
with another viral situation that took place that same weekend.

Photo Credit: www.mirroruk.com

The man in the photo above is a struggling rapper who goes
by the name of Kasper Knight. This genius decided that the
best way to shoot up the ranks of the rap game and to prove
his “realness” was to shoot himself in the face on video. In
case you can’t believe what you just read, he SHOT HIMSELF
IN THE FACE ON VIDEO. Then he uploaded it to his Facebook
page. After a wave of comments that ranged from horror to
disbelief, this cat decided to upload a second video all bloodied
and stitched up, even remarking that he might’ve swallowed
the bullet. He went on to eseentially dump all over his family
and friends, claiming “Your care for my life will never supersede
my disregard for it.” Knight even took WorldStar Hip Hop to 
task for not showing the video, claiming it was a racially-motivated
decision. At last word, police in Indiana were investigating.

As we’re in an era where all it takes is a short video clip to be
famous (take Antoine Dodson or Chewbacca Mom for example),
you can sit and say that this is par for the course. But then
you would be numb to, and dismiss something more important.
There are idiots out here, a nation of them, who wouldn’t mind
putting themselves and others at risk for fame and imaginary
success. I mean, when it comes to someone like Kasper Knight,
we can shake our heads at how incredibly stupid he is. But the
real question is, can you really laugh at someone who has that
much disregard for himself and others? He originally wanted to
have someone shoot him in the face for a music video. Can you
really look at someone like that and not wonder if he’d want to
go on a spree of shooting others for “shock value”? As for the
teens who stalked Joe Budden, that could’ve went sideways
really fast. Suppose Budden had a piece on him and was inclined
to feel like his life was threatened? You would’ve had someone in
the hopsital or the morgue and Budden in jail if he let off a shot
or two. And then there would’ve been comments from that crowd
that despises anything Black and/or rap-related quick to call him
a “thug” or “senseless” among other things.

The bottom line is, it gets to be a problem when you have such
an emphasis on quick viral videos as a way to gain fame and
money. It sometimes means that Black & Brown communities
get preyed upon the most in these videos, mainly by those who
are white or otherwise willfully ignorant enough to view them
as fodder to get clicks and views. I still remember seething when
there were two guys who felt it would be funny to go around
tougher areas of Brooklyn and step on people’s sneakers to get
a rise out of people. It wasn’t cool then and it isn’t cool now.
Look at that video of Budden and the OVO teens. Even as he’s
confronting them, the main one goes “okay, but follow me on
Twitter!!” And let’s face it, that fool may wind up being in a role
where he’s going to make decisions that impact you or me. Look
at your current election season for proof. You have to be careful
when dummies on demand are willing to go to any lengths for
some shine. In these days and times, it could be more dangerous
than hilarious.  



 

 

Saturday
Jul092016

Mourning, Burning - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit: The Portland Mercury

The cruelties of property and privilege are always more ferocious
than the revenges of poverty and oppression. For the one aims at
perpetuating resented injustice, the other is merely a momentary
passion soon appeased.

- C.L.R. James

Have you ever written with tears in your eyes? I
mean, real burning tears that refuse to fall? If so,
then you now know the state that this article is
being written in. Despite that, I am writing because
that’s my weapon. It is my service to you, the 
readers, the people.

I am writing this because the fire behind this wall
of water in my eyes, fire that is stomping unabated
in my bloodstream borne of anger, demands it. It
is an anger, and a sorrow that I share with a great
many Black and Brown folk all over these United
States who have been reeling since the beginning
of this week with the state-sanctioned murders of
Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile. A week that
began with the celebration of this country’s independence
and was marred by Delrawn Small being shot and
killed on a major Brooklyn street by an off-duty
NYPD officer. I have struggled this entire week with
this news, tried to keep balance. Then the shootings
of the officers in Dallas, Texas after a peaceful protest
by Black Lives Matter and other groups. And then the
mourning of those officers that some outlets have positioned
to be more valid than the execution of these Black
lives on VIDEO. This morning, it all came to a head.
And the burning of those tears have left certain things
much more clearer.

What we are constantly bearing witness to with these
murders by cop is this: it is the frenzied defense of a
system that fears its obsolescence rapidly approaching.
Look at each of these brothers. Alton Sterling was a
father of five, making a living as best he could. A beloved
figure in his Baton Rouge neighborhood, even by the
owner of the store that he was killed in front of. Philandro
Castile, who would’ve been 33 today. A chef at a school
for Montessori students who was a beloved staff member.
Both of these men were targeted, as so many often are,
for rising against the dictated norms of a pipeline system
through policing that has been co-opted by departments
across the nation as a way to generate revenue. Both of
these men selected through spurrious actions(Sterling
was accosted due to an apparent call made by someone
claiming he was up to no good, Castile pulled over due to
a “broken tail light”)and summarily executed. The officers
in both cases shell-shocked after pulling the trigger. And
now swept away on paid leave, protected by unions who
will tighten ranks like any other gang. Small’s death at the
hands of the off-duty cop come in the wake of a “road rage”
incident that goes off radar not only because of the deaths
of Sterling and Castile but the revelation that the off-duty
officer was involved in another racially-based incident before.
You cannot see these murders without seeing how they
are just another addition to the pyre of blood sacrifices to
an system that is far past rotten and reveals more and more
of it especially when the summer hits.

Summertime in America has always held that undercurrent
of anxiety for us. It goes back years, decades. Centuries
even, if you decide to really pore through the history they
choose to exclude from textbooks thanks to partisan politics
as racism. We have always borne the brunt of atrocities both
publicized and held quiet since the dawn of this nation. In this
digital age however, the violence is not only televised it’s on
loop and streaming to wherever you are. To truly understand
where we are, you have to accept a cold truth: there are
a number of Americans who are not people of color who have
a fixation on seeing these videos. It is no different than postcards
of lynchings and the white public holding barbecues around them
that sit in various storehouses and trunks from years past. It
satisfies a pornographic need within these people. This same
sentiment is being shared in memes on comment boards on
various forums. The white supremacists are not the only ones,
just the most unabashed. Don’t think that someone you know
or worked with or went to school with or someone you loved
isn’t party to this. Your proximity to them is closer than you
may realize. This is why many are choosing not to share these
videos or see them, and request that others do the same. Because
the network heads, website editors in chief - they are driven by
traffic numbers. If this gets them more, the better. And so the
prism of power gets strengthened. Think about it - this sentiment
lives on certain groups populated by police members with corrupt
hearts too. Why else do you see these murders keep taking
place? For them, it is what they subscribe to in order to reaffirm
an identity that gives them money and positions of power. Power
rewarded by more military weapons. Ferguson, 2014. Los Angeles,
1990. And others in between and prior.

 

Photo Credit: AP

The shootings of the officers in Dallas compound the situation
because their deaths are, in the same way, being used. Before
I go any further, let me reiterate a point: you can feel sorrow
for their deaths in the wake of a peaceful protest as much as
you feel for the murders of Castile and Sterling. In that, you
must realize one set does not erase the other, should not. But
that is what some are opting to do. This comes in the form of
the “all lives matter” crowd that is split into two camps serving
the same goal. The first camp is well-meaning, but will use the
term as a way to promote an ideal of peace that ultimately negates
it. They wish to, in order to have unity, strip people of color of
what makes them different and has put them in the position
that they are. It’s a neutrality that reinforces silence as violence.
The second camp? They know full well why they use the phrase.
It is the new “get over it”  or “stop playing the race card.” Think
about every situation you may have seen it used on social media.
If you know someone like this, hold your corner and realize they
may not come around to seeing it your way. 


Take into account the frenzy in the aftermath of the officers being
shot and killed. You had someone running the Dallas Police Department
twitter account post a photo of Mark Hughes, a brother who walked
with a rifle as per his consitutional right. Someone who gave up
the rifle to law enforcement to examine before being allowed to
continue to march. They chose him as the chaos went on, and if
not for the vigilance of the people online who debunked that myth,
he could’ve died. The suspect found responsible, Micah Johnson(I
will not play into the game of using his middle initial as a code)
who was blown up by a robot initially used to defuse bombs turns
out to be a former Army veteran who is now being depicted as a loner.
This is after being shown across screens and websites in a daishiki
with his fist raised, and hanging with Professor Griff of Public Enemy.
The mere mention of Black Lives Matter in relation to him basically
has re-ignited certain outlets like Fox News to position that movement
and other justice movements like it as enemies to the state. Think
about it - this happens and Rudy Giuliani, a crook is brought on to
speak for officers. Joe Walsh, a man who hours earlier threatened
the life of the President of the United States on Twitter, gets brought
on CNN.

I say all of this to say that if you are to not only survive and thrive
in these times right now, you need to realize that resistance of 
any sort on behalf of the people, consistent resistance lies in knowing
fully what is going on. It is a resistance that demands that you
continue to break the prism already severely fractured by current
events. This resistance means that you need to let your sorrow
channel into continuing to see clearly, acting clearly. And watch
the spin. Because imbalance is what has kept certain things in play
that harm us. Have those hard talks. Read those links people share.
Don’t shame those who look to re-center themselves through self-
care to protect against emotional trauma and need to log off. Encourage
others to get locally involved however they can, whenever they can
and if they struggle, support them. As always, the struggle continues
and I hope these words help at least one person out.

A revolution that is based on the people exercising their creativity in
the midst of devastation is one of the great historical contributions of
humankind.

- Grace Lee Boggs


 

Saturday
Jul022016

Stakes Is High, Twenty Years Later - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

These past few days, there have been reminders here and
there dropped in my lap with regards to life and all of the
changes associated with it. I get up some mornings and 
check email bulletins in my inbox and find another store or
nightspot or eatery I came up with is gone with the wind.
It’s change on the move here in New York City, a tad too
fast in comparison to what took place in the generation
before mine for my taste. I find it as the underbelly to a
couple of discussions I’ve had with folks, especially when it
comes to rap music and the overall hip-hop culture. There’s
one or two who position themselves as purists that I know,
almost to the point that they come off as stodgy and
inflexible. Change, when it comes, can be off-putting and
tough to deal with. It gets even more challenging to further
evolve and define your own stance in the face of it. And so,
it makes sense that today is the 20th anniversary of an
album where that internal struggle and expression came to
the forefront with one of hip-hop’s most influential and
sometimes misunderstood groups, De La Soul. That album?
Stakes Is High.

Stakes Is High dropped on July 2nd, 1996, and immediately
became part of my summer soundtrack as I whipped around
NYC on the subways. I had been intrigued after seeing the 
video for “Itzhowzee” on Rap City, and seeing how De La was…
well…different. De La Soul had always been viewed by many
I know as a rap group that was guaranteed to give you some
dope music but they didn’t get a whole lot of love from a few
folks out there. That indifference to them went back to their
D.A.I.S.Y. Age stylings and influences that put off some cats
(I’ll never forget one dude in The Wiz saying out loud once,
“Ayo you listen to them tie-dye Long Island dudes? Fugg outta
herrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre!!!” in between miming Sticky Fingaz from
Onyx)even though they were co-founders of one of the all-time
great music collectives, the Native Tongues. Being in college
then, you found that De La got a lot of play with white kids
who viewed them as an easier entry group to vibe with with
regards to rap. Of course, that came about because of the 
influence of production from Prince Paul that fed off a treasure
trove of jazz, psychedelic pop and rock earlier on in their
careers. De La Soul caught a lot of flack. “Coffeehouse rap.”
That was how it got described once. “Soft”. What was wild
was that their presence spurred on the rise of other groups
that delivered rap music in a unique way that was similar
(i.e. Digable Planets, P.M. Dawn, Boogiemonsters) but they
weren’t given the respect due. This time however, Prince Paul
wasn’t involved with any of the production thanks to a split
between he and the group. Heading up the process was the
members themselves, led by Dove. This would prove to be
extremely important to the album’s overall sound and message.

Right off the bat, Stakes Is High showcases that it’s a powerful
album thanks to “Intro” which begins with various people
reminiscing about the first time they heard Boogie Down
Productions’ “Criminal Minded”. From there you get Posdonous
spitting and you know off the bat that this is going to be a
different De La experience thanks to these bars that wound up
causing MAJOR beef between the group and another popular
group of that time(more on that in a bit):

A talker of the verb without weed influence
so stick to your Naughty By Nature’s and your Kane
‘cause graffiti that aint based upon the wax is insane
 

From there you get “Supa Emcees”, opening with Dove
essentially imitating a police siren and stating “that’s the 
sound of the poor” as the beat drops. The track itself is
a sharply pointed commentary on the growing shift in
rap music, with some quips that not only were biting
but prescient in their accuracy. De La’s disappointment
with the rise of extreme reliance on gangster ethos 
and overt commercialism being pushed by the industry
in rap music at the time shows throughout Stakes Is
High. Take this into account - this was around the same
time that Nas had dropped It Was Written and Jay-Z’s
classic Reasonable Doubt hitting the streets. You also
had The Score from The Fugees competing with Bone
Thugs-N-Harmony atop the charts. The scene was shifting,
and for De La Soul it must’ve felt like far too much.

For some, Stakes Is High sounded depressing at first in 
comparison with some of the other projects out there 
that had more upbeat elements. But true musical genius
is always off-putting at first. Dig deeper into the tracks
and you see how stronger both Pos and Dove got as MC’s.
“Down Syndrome” is a prime example of this, with both
rappers trading cluster bomb verses that made you mess
up the fast forward button on your Sony Discman back
then. They made it a point this album to basically tell the
world, “listen, we see these changes and we’re not happy
with the artistry being lessened in rap. You don’t like what
we’re saying? Come bring it.” In that respect, Stakes Is
High is both challenge and commentary. Listen to “Itzhowezee”
again, and you see how Dove’s solo venture makes it so:

And yo get your bowl ‘cause we cookin up stew
See them Cubans don’t care what y’all n****s do
Colombians aint never ran with your crew
why you actin’ all spicy and shiesty 
the only Italians you knew was icees


Challenge. Commentary. You hear it on every track, in the
carefully crafted interludes(like the one depicting a racist 
white guy deriding rap music at the end of “Long Island 
Degrees”) and the one right after “Stakes Is High” where
cats talk about O.J. Simpson. That one verse from Pos from
Intro you saw a while back? That wound up causing a serious
beef between them and Naughty By Nature, and even got
the late 2Pac riled up enough to record a diss against them
that was released only after his death. (Side note: as much
as many thought De La Soul were soft cats based on their
music, the amount of stories I’ve heard of them dusting 
heads off like furniture polish number in the dozens.) Most
of all, Stakes Is High spoke to me as an album that touched
on realities of life that I was soon going to face. “Pony Ride”
talked about interpersonal relationships and what caused 
folks to drift apart from each other. I mean, Pos’ entire verse
on that track resonates a lot more now as I’m a couple years
away from the 40th decade of life and seeing guys I know 
get divorced. This is before we even get to the title track.
“Stakes Is High” goes down as probably one of the most 
influential and era-transcending hip-hop tracks ever due to
a couple of factors. First? Production from J Dilla, who was
on the way to being the legend he is now regarded as. Second?
The GEMS dropped by Dove(“I think that smiling in public is
against the law/cause love don’t get you through life no more”)
and by Pos(“A meteor has more rights than my people”).
And again, this proves De La’s willingness to push the envelope
- this was also the album that gave further exposure to 
Mos Def.

That’s the true value, years later of Stakes Is High. It’s an
album that cut through the bullshit of the time to remind 
listeners of what should really matter. It didn’t do well in 
sales, and was panned by some. But it has not only held up
well in the past 20 years, some of it applies directly to what’s
going on today. You still have wack rap talent succeeding. 
You still are dealing with an industry that wants to put
artists in boxes. It’s interesting that De La Soul now is set
to release their latest album to widespread acclaim via
crowdfunding efforts this August, spurning the traditional labels.
Once again, providing both a commentary and a challenge not
just to the rap world but us as listeners. The lessons of 
Stakes Is High are life lessons about accepting the change
that you can accept, and giving the middle finger and
combatting the change you cannot accept however you
can. You can’t help but appreciate that.  

 

Saturday
Jun042016

Muhammad Ali, The Magnificent Black Butterfly - Chris "Preach" Smith


I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be
what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.

Muhammad Ali, 1942 - 2016 

Do you remember the first time you ever truly understood
what Black Magic really was, when it showed out? 

For me, one of those moments came when I was about 8 years old.
It was a Saturday afternoon, and I remember Pops had come home
from the office. The back door was open, and it was a cool breeze that
came in. The TV we had in the dining room then was tuned in to ABC.
“Wide World Of Sports” was on, and it was airing a boxing match. “The
Thrilla In Manila”, Muhammad Ali versus “Smoking” Joe Frazier. I had
seen Ali before in one or two kids’ shows, mainly the infamous “Different
Strokes” episode where he scared THE Gooch off Arnold’s back. Seeing
him fight, was a revelation. The surreptitious movements, the endurance.
The swagger that poured from him as much as the sweat did that day. I
felt it, even though this was a replay of a fight that happened before I
was a thought. Then I looked at Pops. His face was a mixture of calm,
assured delight. He grinned every time Ali danced, intently listening to
the play-by-play from Howard Cosell. That was Ali. That was Black Magic,
uncut. That was what he gave to US.

Photo Credit: AP

I have a dear uncle of mine in London, England. Uncle Pal, Leroy Silvera.
He went over to England to work in the 1950’s from Jamaica, & went on
to be one of the city’s foremost carpenters and construction experts. To
this day, while sipping a Guinness, over the phone, he’ll talk about how
he used to call himself the Cassius Clay of London and laugh. There was
seriousness to it - the moniker came because of how he had to put the
hands on a few racist blokes spurred on by Enoch Powell and others who
weren’t keen on Black Caribbean folks there. He admired Muhammad Ali
so much that he even joined a gym to hone his pugilism. Again, Ali was
a hero, one of the live wires that transmitted Black Magic to those who
needed it. 
 

On this morning, after 
Muhammad Ali has left this world, you’d be forgiven
for thinking that it simply isn’t true. Someone who has made history with
their heart as much as their fists, who’s that larger than life, shouldn’t be
bound by what mortal limits there are. I mean, consider the breadth of this
man’s life. Black. Boxer. Poet. Millionaire. Actor. Singer. Muslim. Revolutionary.
Philanthropist. Champion. If there is ever to be a visit from beings past our
ninth planet, it would not surprise me if after “peace” came from whatever
orifices they could speak through were the words, “Float like a butterfly,
sting like a bee!” Like I said, Black Magic transmitted. Floating. Stinging.
Lingering.

Photo Credit: AP


I take pains to emphasis how Black he was, because you’re undoubtedly
going to read and hear how he “transcended race in America”. That’s a
rope-a-dope that the system wants to you swallow. Ali wasn’t a sucker to
be blind to what ills this country suffered. There was a time where he was
the most reviled figure not only in sports in America, but the world. He was
outspoken about it, for our sake. Dig that - he was outspoken FOR OUR SAKE.
He was revolutionary, and willing to fight in and out of the ring for Black
people. He was keen on brotherhood, and peace and outspoken. He would
meet with anyone to do what was right - Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro. And
he would often be successful. It has to  be stated that way. Anything else is
an attempt to neuter who Muhammad Ali was. He faced up to the spite that
certain elements of this nation and society  threw at him, once he joined the
Nation of Islam, once he refused to be inducted into the draft. And he won.
AND HE WON. During a time where this nation was close to being ripped totally
apart due to the Civil Rights struggle and the anti-Vietnam War effort. We needed
that. He was one of a few Black athletes who was willing to take a stand for
freedom. He paid the cost. And entered a second act of greateness. The will, then
the skill. We needed that. We needed him.

And he gave, continued to long after the last bell. Long after his hands
slowed, and his speech slurred due to the creeping Parkinson’s that affected
him. But he fought it, to teach the world how to live with love and compassion
as his faith taught him. Think about it - even in the last years of his life, did
you ever see him slow down? Muhammad Ali was everywhere. Commercials,
books, magazine ads…proof positive that the man was an four-time champion.
The last being, a champion of life.  

Muhammad Ali, lives on. Long after the final bell, long after the cheers. He lives
on whenever someone laces up their gloves in the gym. He lives on in the ragged
breaths one takes as they’re pushing themselves to go one more mile. Ali lives on in
the steps of those on the streets marching against brutality and oppression. Ali
lives on in the joy that rises in the eyes of elders who remember seeing him in
the flesh. Ali lives on, in Louisville. Harlem. Rome. Kinshasa. Havana. Manila. And
all of the corners of the globe. Muhammad Ali will live on wherever there is magic,
and soul. And laughter. And like the Black butterfly he was, he has trailed
off into the horizon where everything is beautiful.

May he rest, and may we be better for him being here. 

 

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