Commentary: Our image, responsibility and missing chair

The Image: October 13 marked another Columbus Day in the US and some countries in the Caribbean. For many, especially in the Caribbean, Columbus remains an imaginary shadow such as the Santa Maria ship the Encyclopedia Britannica claimed ran aground and, has been missing since October 1492. Many still hope for a lighthouse that leads to a pot of economic gold and spice that was Columbus voyage. In his discovery in places such as Hispaniola in 1492 that is now divided between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Later, Jamaica in 1494 that already had Arawak Indian links to Guyana or Tainos people. Even that part of history remains a shadow as reported by the Gleaner.Fewer than 250 miles  from these shores, the black American experience continues to struggle to upgrade some old images. Dr Henry Gates’ documentary “Many Rivers to Cross” highlighted the African American experience from the transatlantic slave trade up to Obama’s presidency in 2008. Such as in the Caribbean, it was a dark, shameful, and barbaric treatment of blacks where many died.


Sea 1Centuries later, it seems an engine-less boat is still docked in deep waters in search of a navigation system to re-archive black identity on their terms. However, that too has been a difficult task, as many hills and valleys are left to be crossed.Despite the contributions and achievements, both economically and socially, from technology, clothing and social issues like same-sex marriage, tolerance, and even political victories, one has to constantly debunk the monolithic shadow as if, 400 years later, everyone is still chained on the same ship. Even the underwater unknown shadow seems more important than the ones above struggling for formation, as reported when UNESCO urged Haiti to protect its underwater heritage where the Santa Maria allegedly sank.  

 Although many have begun successfully to emerge from the deep-sea chains, September 8, 2014, led many to believe perhaps a ship is still docked, and ready to be filled, after Ray Rice, a National Football League (NFL) player, violently attacking his fiancée on video came out. His behavior not only reminded us that the domestic violence shadow still lies off the ocean edges, it created a feeling that several outstanding warrants needed to be executed in some communities even without probable cause. In spite of this serious issue, what seems to become the norm is that television ratings, and new careers of pundits flourish as society becomes more divided while victims got lost in the channels, like the 1995 O.J. Simpson case.

These last few months we saw money, victims, race, and culture collide where structural covariates by the media, which suggested that only certain groups of people commit violence against women. Even SantaPicture 013-1 Maria, Nina and Pinta seem to have more credibility, as it seems a single criminal act is a reason to cast a wide net and group an entire community in what I call “canoe media.” This mentality creates a concurrent log that places one poor behavior as everyone’s charge.Instantaneously and sometimes prematurely, floodgates are opened that swiftly forecast cloudy downstream when a mug shot of a professional black athlete emerges. Although violations occur separately, it seems all must take a plea deal on the same docket.

Today, maintaining one’s relevance is more critical, especially for black fathers, who now must create the history they deserve. With limited opportunities and the burden of structural conditions, many cannot wait for Iyanla Vanzant to fix their lives in a 30-minute counseling session. The social isolation that is evolving, of which some is self-inflected cannot be ignored because one is different. Simply looking to leading NFL players’ statistics to pick role models and a reason to join every fantasy game with the latest gadgets to raise our youths has to be re-balanced. Responsibility nurtures curiosity and that will decide if such a simple word like “color” becomes an abstract like many of the diverse age 6-10 year-old boys who take over my front steps a few weekends on their skate boards.

Having more technical shrewdness is great, but too many are still educationally, and financially deficient and adding life’s complexities makes fatherhood a daunting task. As we lift our heads from the smart phone screens for a pause, many communities are still spinning on an unexplainable axis along criminal, racial, cultural, and other socio-economic issues that need an alertness beyond simple imagination.

When our society confronts its own spinning shadow, and not opening an archive to protect what is beneath the surface, the “selective history” that often emerges creates polarization, intolerance, and hate between different races. Strategically, or subconsciously negative vignettes work. When certain media consistently morph groups despite a variability, especially for young black men, who are pinned between their own  confusions, and begin to develop an ideology that only black men are abusers. Furthermore, only when rich and famous people are abused, arrested, or killed then society stops and takes notice, and that is troubling.

Our Responsibility: Acknowledging criminal behavior can be very uncomfortable. Moreover, to change these tides and the river from overflowing, the community has to change course. Blacks and crime is not a new piece of software that requires certain level of knowledge to interpret a hypothesis and correlation. During the first weekend in October 2014, in Washington, DC, over nine reported gun-related violent incidents occurred. It ranged from warrant executions, to the shooting of a child. Beneath these criminal acts, it reinforces a theory that emphasizes “It only affect them.” These occurrences are difficult to paddle through for the victims and the communities that are affected. However, how many have gone back upstream to help others?

Football_origShortly after Ray’s video posted, I attended a little league football game. As I watched, three co-captains aged 6-7 walked on to the field, including my son. As they greeted their opponent for the coin toss, I asked, “Who is responsible for his behavior on and off the field?” Brit Hume, a Fox Television host I seldom agree with, said it best. “The NFL is not responsible for the players’ behavior.” After many final whistles have blown, from little leagues to professional, I doubt those referees will remember all the players’ names. Whose responsibility it is to make sure self-inflected wounds, and strategically placed dark shadows are rejected?

Victims and advocates for many years have been missing  from the economical vessels. However, today with technology, cameras are bringing victims and perpetrators of domestic violence from behind closed doors off deck. Broadcasting what appears to be a one-sided coverage, and the lack of diversity in reporting these crimes, one would believe the meaning of domestic violence should be re-written to insert [Black men].

O.J.One of the legal definitions of domestic violence is: acts committed by [black men] in the context of an adult intimate relationship. It is a continuance of [black men] aggressive andScott P controlling behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, that one intimate partner does to another [in black men and poor communities]. This is not minimization. Anyone who victimized women must be held accountable. However, many Ray Rices are in our schools, mosques, synagogues and churches in disguise. I have mentioned this earlier in an opinion piece:  In order even the score each time a women is abused,  should pundits pull up another race, such as Scott Peterson, who also killed his seven and a half months pregnant wife with her only child when O.J.’s name is mentioned, to bring back emotions and divide to balance the media’s portrayal of a certain group?

What should be done to US female soccer star, Hope Solo, who remains on the active roster, and sponsors are still on board despite her domestic violence charge, while they fled Adrian Peterson? Is this a double standard, or just memory verse in some community? Selective media can be just as dangerous as the high tides on the sea. Within the past six months, about three members of our law enforcement community have been accused of rape. In Purvis, Mississippi, reported by AP in July 2014, Officer Burnett was accused of forcible rape and two counts of attempted capital murder. In Charlottesville, VA, a family still seeking  answers for their missing child who found later dead. This story of students missing is not a local issue, but many hearts have been broken in several regions.

thschIn addition, a recent report by Amy Cohen, Deborah Azrael, and Matthew Miller  for  Mother Jones  magazine discussed the rate of Mass school shooting  and that has  from a Harvard study since 2011. This contradicts the media reporting that mass shooting aren’t increasing.

Although blacks sold slaves during the transatlantic slave period, should all blacks still be in slavery? Alternatively, from Aruba to Trinidad, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, many gained independence from colonial rule, but despite the beautiful beaches, dependence roars like the oceans, while sixth and seventh generations of former slave owners are still reaping gold and spice. This is not a call 400 years later for locals to run to the hills and throw rocks as they once did for freedom. Moreover, reactivating colonial images of abuse only develops hate today.

Missing Chair: Many sports franchise globally like the NFL have a multi-billion dollar chair. They control where one sits and that comes with tremendous responsibility. Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner has become America’s new target. However, despite the poor handling of the Ray Rice incident, it seems he has also magnified the negative portrayal and more missing chairs when he initially appointed three Caucasian women to develop a domestic violence program to help the NFL change its reputation.

For victims, an assault is simply that. It is not them vs. us. This is not a push of the racial replay button, but we hope he does not believe qualified black women are still unconscious. Who is best to develop a policy and a treatment modality for black victims? Over 90 percent of these crimes, especially murders, are black on black crimes, but that should not cut one from the chair. Floyd Mayweather recently pulled for a Washington, DC, council ceremonial resolution as his archive files for 2010 domestic violence emerged. For society and possibly to safeguard the community at large, reintegration is also important. October is victim awareness month, and not all violations should immediately be just desserts, isolation or incapacitation.

missing chair 2jpg

DM. Photo

Filling these empty chairs will send a strong message, especially in poor and developing communities, and one cannot be healed if he or she is not present and takes full responsibility. Where is Adrian Peterson’s chair for using a switch on his 4-year-old? Ben Roethlisberger’s alleged three charges. Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito, former Miami Dolphins players, to address harassment, and bullying. Michael Sam, an openly gay player, to address homophobia, and add Barney Franks, a former openly gay congressman perhaps to create a tolerance policy. We can now add Michael Phelps for recent driving under the influence of alcohol because this can also lead to violence.

Violence affects white, black, rich, poor, gay, straight, Muslims, Jews, Christians or non-believers, and not always simply a cultural and socialization process. All violence should become a community health problem with a sense of urgency as dismantling ISIS, poverty, and Ebola and not a reason to give one segment of the community the feeling as if a ship has been docked somewhere on the coastline waiting to make another delivery elsewhere, and only now, it is much harder to reload.  Finally, I commend Russell Grant, quarterback from the Seattle Seahawks, who has taken on the responsibility and added a domestic violence chair. However, I hope his chair stands when the music stops. Regardless, we are talking and one less punch will be thrown.


Commentary: World Cup Soccer, more than a game (Brazil)

More than a game: By D.R. Miller

World Cup Soccer

(AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Global Colours: Every four years, millions of fans gather in person at watch parties in public parks and bars to see the best of the best players face off for bragging rights until another four years. This remarkable event never seems to be far from controversy wherever it is being played. These controversies range from soccer or football, corruptions and the socio-economic responsibility it should take on in our society.

Despite the logistics, since the 2014 games begun, the Amazon colors have taken over our television, iPhones, smartphones, and iPads like a rainbow. However, beneath it all, local residents are crying for a new economic canvas to modernize and move poor people to better standard of living. They are the ones being left out of the prints. After the final whistle has blown, they too will be still asking economic referees for a penalty that was not given on a foul play.

Fifa protect2

Credit Photo: Reuters

The poor socio-economic issues surrounding these games often erupt in protests. The games go on, but the turmoil lingers, blocks from where the games are being played. In the end, these issues never left, as they will re-emerge like the sea rushing back to the shores to recreate the sand paths that were eroded by rich footprints left the day before.

Football is a global game that originated in England, but later called soccer in the US. The game unites people. Relatively, it is not expensive to start a game. However, the gap between the rich and the poor is further than the locations where these games are being played, while the poverty is closer than the two goal posts.

Brazil protest

Photo: Credit Credit Forbes

The Brazilian local economy problems have been overlooked,” several protesters argued. It appears this colour is seldom beamed to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, Brazilians are now under the microscope. The carefully orchestrated images that emerge from the sideline will have a lasting effect.

The World Cup is bigger than its location, despite heartaches, especially from the early departure by England, Italy and Australia. However, the stage is still where players and supporters use the event to highlight their countries, send statements, and reconnect with compatriots who are still club rivals. This is like a family reunion before they head back to business.

Most importantly, lifelong friendships are formed, even between countries without diplomatic ties and where cultural divides are rooted in political turmoil.

Yes! This is the real “World Champion Series,” and the true world champions are crowned after eight weeks.

The Economics: These games are being led under the International Association Federation of Football (FIFA). It is a billion-dollar industry, and throughout this region, the games are ubiquitous. Forbes magazine has reported that (FIFA) will generate about $4 billion in revenue. However, more needs to be done to promote social programs to cut poverty and not the appearance of forcing local economies to stretch their budgets to accommodate its demands.

In preparation of the 2014 World Cup, an estimated cost of up to US$11 billion was spent — while the Brazilian economy remains stagnant. However, the government has predicted that it will be a net positive for the overall economy, stemming from event-related services among several industries.

world cupWherever FIFA places its goal posts, it is always under the microscope. Recently published in a British magazine, the organization is being investigated on corruption and bribes related to the Qatar 2022 bid. Nevertheless, FIFA always manages to execute successful events. The game between the US and Portugal had one of the highest ratings, upward of 21 million. Imagine if these fans force FIFA to make sure some economic balance where it places the next goal posts.

FIFA’s operation is not much different from the American National Football League (NFL). Inside these games, recruitment is alive. This is where wealthy club managers scope every play, searching for the next star and the face of new marketing global campaigns.

BrazilBrazil is not alone in this new paradigm shift, as the media outlets would have liked us to believe. In the US, billions have also been spent on NFL stadiums and baseball parks, funded with taxpayers’ money. In some cases, poor neighbours are also uprooted; residents are priced out of the real estate market, and relocated for the perfect camera shots. Often these public investments are unsuccessful. The fans are gone and games are empty.



Economic gentrification has taken place for over a decade in other areas like China, Caribbean and Europe.Sure, these new areas will attract visitors in the long-run, but one cannot ignore the fact that, a few blocks down the street, across from these new complexes lie drug-infested housing projects, prostitution, sexual violence, and even exploitation of children, as many wait for a foul ball to exit the stadiums to be noticed.

Brazil-WC2014 Brazil WC

The socio-economic argument that surrounds the World Cup is nothing new. In 2010, South Africa went through the same issues on how much its own government spent that could have been used to move people out of poverty.

Soccer, or football, has generated several global stars, and has moved families out of poverty. Some of their stories are similar to some players of the NFL, National Basketball Association (NBA), baseball and many other professional sports. In some areas, the millions generated from players who left slums (ghettos) seldom trickle down to communities where it all started.


The other Brazil

Game Lessons: With success should come responsibility, and despite the Beautiful Game that has broken down barriers, some players still face discrimination. Some are called niggers, monkey and banana being used as symbol a games by some fans. Such as gentrification, our society has been increasingly shifting as it is becoming more diverse and that sometimes causes tension

FIFA should know how to combat these issues. It has been around since 1904 and now has over 300,000 clubs and over 240 million players around the world.

The game represents a much wider reach far beyond 90 minutes on the field. It is an extension of the communities, economics, discipline teamwork, acceptance, talent optimization and diplomacy, even between nations with political tensions.

As a young man, a soccer/football field and now “pitch” as it is called by some was critical to stay off the streets after school. Although not all young players became stars, the friendships gained, and lessons learned lasted a lifetime.

Often I join a few new fans at the local sport bars who seem intrigued with long pauses when they realize a few team’s starting 11 such as the French, Germans, the Italians have black players, and some are Muslims. It is more than a game and awareness is key. Thirty years later since I had to navigate drug and crime infested areas to reach a local field, I wondered if our own socio-economic polarization on this side of town has reduced some of our imagination. Perhaps our own major league should do more.

Many now are aware that the Iranians plays soccer and not everything is about nuclear weapons and tension with the Israelis. Even the Israelis have a solid team. On the Latin side of town, some players are of African descent, with similarities as an NFL player and they too are extremely rich and more famous.

(AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Responsibility: FIFA is excellent at managing the global operation. However, as our society becomes more diverse, isolated by ideology and personal interests, it will need more than building stadiums. Equality, discrimination, and a platform for players to speak when issues threaten to reduce the next generation of players.

This 2014 World Cup has been a homecoming for many South American teams, and celebrations have been tremendous. However, there is a dark side that is lurking in some countries just north of these games off the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of children who have fled their countries where a few dominating stars call home.

Border kids(1)Most of these children without their parents are under age 10 and now in detention camps at the US border. Up to 90,000 came from Honduras, Colombia and Guatemala as reported. These young people fled to escape sexual violence and other inhumane treatment stemming from crime. No one will know the long-term physiological impact but it can be devastating, as studies have shown.  Some of the children I believe have left posters of favourite players in the game today. However, it seems their stories have gone unnoticed until the final whistle has been blown. These players have to step up, as most of the atrocities are a few blocks from their own stadiums.

Mario B(1)

Italian star Mario Balotelli

The football organizations and its players cannot be the world police but with success and global appeal comes responsibility to speak in humanitarian crisis. Billions are being spent to create perfect pictures while others seek the next Latin star to fill their stadiums from ticket sales.

Sadly, some are outside the gated walls looking to take the dangerous trip north, while other pitches are filled with toxins and the goal posts are two empty containers with lead. Maybe revenue generated can be used to at least give awareness to this problem.

Recently, Italian star Mario Balotelli spoke up after he faced racial slurs from a few fans and more players have to do the same.
Extra Minutes: These extra minutes added to games can generate more revenue for FIFA. However, in a few weeks, the cameras will be gone; and well-dressed immigrant men and women from the television networks with few selected feel-good stories, while surrounded with security as if they are in a war zone, will leave town.

When the final whistle is blown, some of the players will have to pass through their poor towns and cities plagued with violence. Before FIFA canvasses the next venue, it should not only seek ways on how to increase its own balance sheet. It must make sure the community economic impact benefits all, regardless of colour, class, race, and socio-economic status, because the next 100 years can only be beautiful if it remains more than a game.