Friday, July 20, 2007

Disappointment and Devastation: Another Black Athlete Ruins his Image

I really can’t understand why some of our black athletes continue to put themselves in situations that resemble wrongdoing. Why do they continue to let me and all the other black folk who support them down? Why can’t they understand that their boorish behavior poorly reflects on the entire black community? May be they are cognizant of this, and just don’t care. I would not be surprised considering several of them appear to be mentally, spiritually, and emotionally unconnected to anything outside of themselves. Their lack of reverence for the law and uncontrollable rebellion is a recipe for complete destruction within American society. Think about all the black men you know or heard of who decided to behave this way. What was their fate? Death, incarceration, broke? Which is it?

One may gather that I am speaking of these young men as if they are not humans with flaws just like the rest of us. Perhaps it is my fault that I feel disappointed in Michael Vick and devastated that he is in this predicament. If he was not a famous running-quarterback would I still be devastated by his alleged peccant activity? Perhaps my feelings are a result of me holding Vick to a higher standard.

If Michael Vick is convicted we will have those who will rationalize his behavior and involvement in this horrific criminal enterprise. Some have already stated to me, “We sit and watch men box and fight, and no one says a word. What makes dog fighting so atrocious when we allow men to end up like Muhammad Ali? And, we pay to see it on Pay Per View.” I certainly understand this sentiment. However, I cannot support or tolerate an activity where animals are treated so brutally. The Pit Bull Terriers that are trained to fight do not have a choice. A man with a sane mind does. And, most of these boxers and extreme fight barbarians are of sound mind before they go in that ring to annihilate their opponent. They do not have an animal’s intelligence. These young men and women are able to reason on a human capacity level which is in most cases above the level of a dog’s intelligence. Some of these human beings even pray with traces of madness to beat their opposing competitor and pray to finish the fight “pretty”, which indicates they are aware of their actions. Think about it: praying to knock someone out or have them retreat into submission. What type of sense does that make?

Speaking of making sense out of madness: I can’t stop thinking about the details listed in the indictment against Michael Vick and the other cohorts: Body slamming, electrocution, and hanging of man’s best friend. And, how can I forget about the piece of equipment that was confiscated from Vick’s property that’s used to hold girly dogs in position so male dogs can rape the bearer of canine life?

Disappointment and Devastation.

This is where I am at today. Disappointed and devastated that another brotha is linked to foolishness and sociopathic behavior that not only will possibly terminate his Falcon’s paycheck, but further tarnish the reputation of brotha’s who are trying to stay out of prison and do the RIGHT thing. And, don’t be mistaken Vick has lived a privileged adult life. He is not a victim of America’s institutionalized cruelness towards black men. He is wealthy, was coddled at Virginia Tech, spoiled by the NFL, and supported by major endorsers. But, Mr. Vick could not let go of the thuggery. He had to “stay the same”. Staying the same and refusing to really change his life as a result of his stardom was his miscalculated decision. And now, those who wanted him to remain Michael Vick from “Bad News”, Virginia and not Mr. Michael Vick who has multi-million dollar contracts with the Atlanta Falcons organization, Nike, and Air Tran are about to show him that they never had any intentions to protect him. You would think Michael would understand that when a man’s back is against the wall he more than likely will not “stay the same”. He is going to change to protect himself. Too bad Vick did not consider this. Maybe Vick’s privileged back should have been put against the wall. Then he might know that some form of self-changing is necessary when you have no where or no one to turn to for support or help.

Have I convicted Michael Vick? No, I have not. I still try to believe in what they told me in civics class: innocence until proven guilty. Nevertheless, Michael Vick convicted himself a long time ago. He did so when he failed to take the necessary steps to protect his image. He does this every time he responds to reporters like an ignorant Negro. He did this when he flipped the bird to the fans that adored him. Michael Vick has been making this bed for a long time. The funny thing is it appears he just realized that he needed to project a more acceptable image by cutting his hair. After these outlandish allegations of bestiality he finally gets it. He finally understands that staying the same is not an option when working for the Man.

The NFL will not bail him out of this one. Too many white and black folk love dogs!

Someone please tell Michael Vick it is a privilege to play for the National Football League, and that the league will do any and everything to safeguard their image and reputation.

Written by Muata. Inspired by my Disappointment and Devastation.

An edited version of this commentary was featured as an op-ed piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and featured in its original form on

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Mastermind behind Sicko looks Sick, but He is on Point

As I sat and watched Michael Moore, the producer of Sicko, debate with a well respected physician, Sanjay Gupta, I had a thought: I find it extremely ironic that an obviously unhealthy man is promoting anything that relates to healthcare. Think about it. Here is a man who has two beer bellies - and he wants someone to listen to his opinion on the state of healthcare in the United States. Wait! I know what one or two of you are thinking: What does Michael Moore’s excessive weight have to do with his understanding of how jacked-up the American healthcare industry is? I get that!

Yes, I am aware that a few other countries’ healthcare systems work more efficiently than ours. Yes, I am aware that the facilitation of healthcare in the United States is biased, and even racist. However, I am also aware that it should be the responsibility of each American to be accountable when it comes to taking care of themselves. For example, I am perfectly aware that I have to monitor what I eat so I will not die of a heart attack or stroke considering I have been diagnosed with high cholesterol. Watching what I eat is, in fact, me taking some responsibility not to overburden the healthcare system with doctors’ visits because I refuse to eat healthy. Believe me, after years of devouring ribs, burgers, chicken wings, and French fries I have discovered eating right can be difficult. Now, for those of you questioning my position on this: Do I make any sense yet? Or, am I a Sicko in your mind?

The truth of the matter is that it looks like Michael Moore is literally about to be a Sicko. Sicko in the sense that he may die as a result of overeating or eating the wrong foods. Just take a look at his triple chin, his flabby cheeks; and I also notice that he breathes heavy when he talks. He sounds like a big guy struggling to get out of a Kia Rio. I am embarrassed for Michael. Not because he is overweight. But, because he has the audacity to criticize America’s healthcare system (it should be criticized), and he is a self-induced health risk and a potential financial disaster for most insurance companies due to his love of donuts.

I am certain there are others out there who want to say or write what I am conveying, but can’t because of who they work for. Like Dr. Gupta, CNN’s Resident Health Contributor. I know it took almost everything in him not to say to Moore: ‘Man, please. You talkin’ bout healthcare and yo fat behind can’t even sit comfortably in that chair.’ He had to be thinking of something along these lines. And, I am sure some critic, like myself, is thinking my thoughts too.

I made every attempt not to go see Sicko with this very critical analysis of Michael Moore and his gut. It took everything in my realm of moral power not to be judgmental of the documentary in spite of Michael’s hypocrisy. I actually support his crusade to expose the deficiencies within healthcare and his efforts to inform those of us with our heads in the sand. Therefore, I wanted to come away from the movie having learned something and with more respect for Big Mike’s work. And, I did!

Sicko will make you laugh and it will make the toughest of us shed a tear or two. I was a victim of both. It was like experiencing Frankie Beverly’s hit song: Joy and Pain. As I sat there in the stadium style movie house with mostly senior citizens I felt elated when a few sickly people featured in the documentary were finally going to get the much needed healthcare attention (outside the US) they have lacked for months. I also had sympathy for those few people
mentioned in this soon to be award winning film who died as a result of the Land of the Free’s non-socialistic system of healthcare management. This is what I left the theater thinking about.

My thoughts of Moore’s blubber had waned. No longer was I blasting Michael Moore for being irresponsible with his health. No, I had a new mental agenda: What can I do to help? My feelings changed. I was now on Michael’s side. He convinced me. His mission to inform and incite response worked. Nonetheless, I am left wondering who in a position of authority to make a change will be shaken by men, women, and children dying simply because they do not have health insurance. Which one of our elected officials or presidential candidates will have the balls to push legislation through for universal healthcare? Barack is all for it, and appears to be serious about it. It is one of his top initiatives if elected. Hilary has a plan also, but we should remember that Hilary was appointed by her cheating husband to lead a healthcare revolution back when she was sleeping in the White House. What ever happen to that task force-type cause? If you don’t remember go see Sicko. I will give you a clue: $$$$.

It is the almighty dollar driving this massive profit gaining monster. The healthcare industry was never formed to take care of the citizenry of the United States. (Google Nixon and Healthcare or JUST GO SEE THE MOVIE. You will be surprised). Unlike France, Canada, Great Britain, and Cuba the United States refuses to help the poor and the newly poor. I would not be surprised if the poor only included the coloreds. No, our government even neglects children and the elderly of all races. I’m sure the seniors I sat beside at the AMC are clearly aware that they have been forgotten. Could this be the reason a bus load of them were there taking advantage of the discounted ticket price and free popcorn? I safely imagine: YES! They were there crying, and chatting throughout the movie because they are beneficiaries of the United States’ governments decision to be in cahoots with Kaiser Permanente, Humana, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, and CIGNA.

As I sat there totally okay with those grandparents talking throughout the documentary, I began to think about my future. What will I do when my extended unemployment health insurance runs out? Will I be able to afford the quoted premium of $385 a month? Where will I get my Crestar from for a discounted price? What will happen if I get sick? I left the movies with all of this on my mind thanks to Michael Moore, but I am okay with another fat guy sharing the TRUTH with me. All I need now is one of those triple-decker cheeseburgers from Wendy’s!

Thanks, Michael. I have a chocolate covered cream filled donut waitin’ for ya!

Written by Muata. Inspired by those old folks who will have trouble getting popcorn kernels out of their dentures.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Genarlow Wilson: We Protested to Continue the Fight

I looked out over the crowd. In the mini sea of protesters I saw faces of despair. Faces of frustration and faces of disappointment. I saw women who could have been my mother. Mothers who could have been seeking some level of justice for their sons, bothers, or husbands. I saw men who looked broken. Defeated and tired. We all were waiting to be militantly stimulated by a word of encouragement, faith, and persistence.

It was an emotional sight. So much so I could not contain my emotions. The more I swallowed the more I filled my Che Guevara handkerchief with tears. I was crying, but what for? Why was I crying at such an uncontrollable pace? The tears would not stop flowing. Even my cherished Che t-shirt was soaked with my wet symbol of emotion. My feelings were filled with anger and resentment. I was in that familiar place of not believing that we (black folk) still have to march and sing those sad songs of hope. It was not We Shall Overcome that I was hearing in the background. It was one of those songs that if heard you would know with certainty that slaves articulated it with harmony while picking cotton and while sitting in their open-air churches. Churches that capsulated aspirations, hopes, faith, and not premeditated entertainment and religious pimpology.

What I experienced on July 5th in Douglas County is what our ancestors routinely experienced: a daily struggle filled with dreams of freedom, justice, and equality. I was in this southern county, which is only 10 minutes from one of the blackest cities in America, to lend my support for a cause. Approximately three hundred of us like-minded descendents of slaves were in attendance. We were called there to support Genarlow Wilson. Something unseen forced us to travel in an extremely organized caravan from Martin L. King, Sr.’s former church, Ebenezer Baptist, to the steps of the courthouse in Douglasville, Georgia. About an hour away from that 1960’s fiery state of Alabama. The home of Selma and Montgomery. Those places where men, women, boys, and girls were killed just because they were black. It was their blackness that motivated the Klansmen to treat them with such hatred. No other reason. For this reason also, Mr. Genarlow Wilson is incarcerated. Some may say he is in prison because he and the others broke the law. I agree. However, I will refute anyone’s statement that does not mention he is locked-up because of his race. Genarlow is in jail with murders, rapists, and burglars because he is that symbol of fear: Black.

A couple of weeks ago I was engaged in a contentious debate with a black friend who led me to believe that he understood race not to be a factor in America’s make-up of today. I could not believe that this young man who may be a product of affirmative action believes race is not the United States’ number one domestic problem. At first I thought that I misunderstood him, and he contends to this day that I did. At the time, I did glean this miscalculation of race relations from his statements and personal insults. I could not have been wrong. He was too adamant and convincing. In the end, we were somewhat on the same page. I exited the email debate respecting his opinion, but his position on the matter still haunts me. I just can’t believe a black man who is more than likely viewed by his white peers as ‘My Black Friend’ - and not ‘My Friend’, believes race is irrelevant and Jim Crow in theory and action is dead. What will it take for me to believe his final statement?: “Race is relevant.”

At the rally for Genarlow I kept hearing, “Race is relevant” in some form. It was like I wanted it to be an additional reason for me to be there waiting for Rev. Al Sharpton to grace us with his words of defiance. When Al finally had the crowd hypnotized while chanting: No Justice, No Peace a lone voice extinguished our mesmerizing state. This voice momentarily quelled our spirit of togetherness. Someone was disturbing our cause and our unity. The rattling voice came from a stringy-haired, out of shape, homely West Virginia-looking white girl. She was yelling, “This case is not about race.” What audacity! The black woman I was standing beside on this hot and humid day was floored. She was ready to grab this white girl’s jugular!

“You mean to tell me this white chick has the gall to stand among us and defy our position on this important matter?” I could not believe this chick’s impudence either. I also thought that it takes an insanely brave person to enter a sanctuary of black purpose, and disrupt the message we wanted to send to the newly named Uncle Tom: Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker. But I was not surprised. (White folk move into the black neighborhoods we avoid. They ain’t scared.)

This woman was not crazy. She was just utilizing her First Amendment Right. Her boldness only empowered us protesters to yell louder and louder: NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE. In this act of solidarity we were successful at getting rid of that gnat. Her annoyance soon transcended into a victory, and all of us were recharged with vibrant determination to express more passionately our Freedom of Speech right while chanting: Free Genarlow Wilson.

Freedom is costly in America. Somebody has to pay for it. Some pay for it with money. Some pay for it with doing time. Others have to sacrifice. Sacrificing was easy for black men and women of the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. They did it for you and me. But, we fail daily to honor their sacrifice. We will not do what is necessary to maintain the little piece of freedom we think we now have. I have asked time and time again: What will it take for us (ALL of US) to understand that the struggle is not over? What will it take for us to understand that race STILL does matter? What will it take for you to join me and hopefully hundreds of other marchers/protesters on July 14, 2007 to support a black man wronged by the white man’s tool (judicial system) to keep us in bondage?

Join me: Even if you are not the ‘fight the system type’ please come out for the exercise. Exercise with us folk who will have a dual workout: Marching and being heard.

Written by Muata. Inspired by Genarlow Wilson mother’s pain. It is written all over her face.

Monday, July 02, 2007

When You Can't Find Anything of Value to Watch on Television - Don't Stop Surfing

As I physically and psychologically prepared myself to endure the 2007 BET Awards Show I began to think about why I vehemently dislike BET’s version of an award show. After about two minutes of thinking I came to one realization: The Black Entertainment Television Award Show is not really produced to award people for their craft. Yes, entertainers receive the coveted and Best Whatever awards, but the most popular elements of the show are the performances. This is what everyone wants to see and witness; and BET knows this. Not the Life Time Achievement Award and Humanitarian Award presentations. When this special time of honorary came most of us got up from our comfortable positions, relieved ourselves, and/or found something fattening to chew on for the remainder of the fabulous marathon. ‘How do you know this, Muata? Hey, I really don’t know what you did when Diana Ross was being honored. Just speculating and doing something I should not: Assume. Nonetheless, I can tell you what I did: I muted the television. I was not interested in being bombarded with Diana Ross’s musical achievements. Was not feeling it. I do respect Mrs. Ross. I just could have cared less about her during my time and moment of needing entertainment. Considering I don’t go to one of these mega churches down here in Atlanta, I have to get my entertainment in at every possible opportunity.

Opportunity is what I was looking for throughout my time of viewing a few of the performances. I needed a reason to find something else to watch on this night. I needed something inspirational or funny; not interludes of feeling embarrassed by an act of stupidity; and definitely not something that would make me feel like destroying my tube television. But, ravaging my TV is what I felt like doing when I channel surfed back to that three hour lip-synching concert on BET. Thanks to 50 Cent I had an out. The opportunity presented itself! After his performance I knew it was time for me to stop the index finger workout with my remote control. So, I settled on a show that proved to be touching and little more substantive.

I know exactly what some of you are thinking: Can Muata ease-up a little and enjoy himself? While that question rolls around in your head please be reminded that enjoyment comes in various forms. And, on this night I selected to be entertained by Shaquille O’Neal. We all know Shaq is a clown. When he is not ferociously dunking a basketball or elbowing those that try to defend him, he is usually somewhere smiling or helping someone else smile. This is exactly what I needed on the 26th of June 2007. Some good humor and not overweight Mo'Nique glorifying unhealthiness. I have Shaq to thank for the rescue - and nothing but a middle finger for Curtis Jackson! This man continues to make me feel like pulling a sheet over my head in an effort to hide my displeasure and embarrassment. And, I have this message for Mo’Nique: Getting obese should not be encouraged.

As I typed this commentary I could not think of a time when I felt Shaq was less than a role model. I have heard about the alleged philandering thanks to Cry Baby Koby, but on most accounts O’Neal has been a stellar citizen within the NBA, and from taking one hour of my precious time on Tuesday I learned that Shaquille is reaching out in the most unusual way: He is making an attempt to fight childhood obesity.

On his new reality show, SHAQ’S BIG CHALLENGE
( he is proving to the world that there are superstars who care about “the youth”. We all know that there isn’t any financial reason for Shaquille O’Neal to spend his time off from missing free throws with six overweight, extremely unpopular, and positive-attention seeking kids. He could be at home with his wife and children, but Shaq is making a difference in the life of Kit. Kit is one of the kids. She is 14 years old and she is suppose to weigh 110 pounds. Unfortunately, Kit is at a mind blowing 263 pounds. Or, how about Walter who weighs 285lbs. He is a 14 year old who behaves like a four year old.

I spent the remainder of my night wondering if Mr. O’Neal will be able to conquer the task of getting these young people to a healthy weight. I spent my night wondering if the 206 pound Cuban kid, Chris, would be able to fight the temptation to eat the additional servings at the family dinner table. Cubans still eat at the table together as a family. I also spent my night frustrated with the parents of these fat children. They are fat because their parents eat junk! It is always the most innocent of us who suffer. In this case it is six children whose combined weight is 1,377 POUNDS. Astonishing! Keep in mind that this mixture of black, white, and Hispanic kids are not even 15 yet. They are waiting to grow older with heart disease, diabetes, and other ailments.

Waiting is what I will be doing as this reality show plays itself out. I will be watching too. But, the waiting is where I will be mostly. Waiting for Shaq to win another championship. This time I want it to come off the court, and in the gym with these fat kids.

By the way, I did make it back to the Best Whatever Award Show. Thankfully, I surfed back in time to see the Humanitarian Award winner Don Cheadle be honored for his efforts to raise awareness of genocidal conditions in the African region of Darfur. Now, that’s what I am talking about! Another brother doing big things, and not something stupid like walking around all day with one hand holding up a pair of shorts while having to walk bow-legged because the pants are about to fall down. Big Dummies!

Written by Muata. Inspired by another poorly produced award show. Inspired by my dislike for ALL award shows. And, you thought it was just the black one!