It’s What Separates Us From the Animals

If we don’t stand for something, what is it, don’t we fall for anything?

People die and we barely blink. War is tragic and it is senseless, but we say it’s a necessary evil to fight evil. Have we not become the monster we intended to destroy?  Bono asks…how long do we sing this song? How long?
It’s war, people die…that’s what we say…as if it makes it okay. Handing a mother a folded flag instead of allowing her to see her child grow into old age…that is not necessary…even if it is dignified.

Children are dying because we are looking the other direction. On purpose. People curl up and die on sidewalks, but we are concerned about suburbia, economic growth. What about keeping hearts beating? Generosity? Genuine concern? What have we become?

What is our gift?We have a soul, and we have a conscience.That is our gift.

It is what separates us from the rest of the animals.

God granted us that. For a reason.

When does humanitarianism count? Genuine care for each other? When did that become rare? Why do we praise people for actually caring about others? We give them awards and keys to the city. Why? Because it is rare. But it doesn’t have to be.
Are we not supposed to care about each other? It’s not just Christians banding with Christians. Jews with Jews. Muslims with Muslims. Blacks with Blacks. Whites with Whites. Rockers with Rockers. Rappers with Rappers. Hipsters with Hipsters. We are a “melting pot”.

Life is here. Heaven comes to earth. We should not wait until we reach heaven. Heaven on earth. Peace on earth. How dare we live just to survive?

There is a song that says, “this world is not my home, I am just a passerby”…is that what we are doing…just passing by? How many people do we “pass by” without a second glance…because we are on a higher calling?
Life is here. People should live. Here. Especially if we have the chance to keep them alive. Children should not die before they have a chance to live

This is what would separate us from the rest of the animals


the pursuit of the dream.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
the pursuit of the dream.
to me, this is the speech. the speech that gave a racially divided america reason to believe one day, maybe just maybe we could be united despite our differences, racially or otherwise. we have seen much of Dr. King’s dream become realities throughout the years. in 1998 while visiting tunica, mississippi, i was witness to extravagant leaps and bounds in racial unity, just by walking down the street with white people. the locals said then that this never would have happened even ten years previous. wow. to me, growing up as the only black kid in predominately caucasian traverse city, michigan, this was truly unbelievable. ‘a black kid couldn’t even walk down the street with a white kid?’ i was truly amazed at the honesty and openness of the locals about their racially divided struggles of the past. i guess we have come a long ways.
fast forward. 2010. as a black man who grew up in a white family with white and hispanic siblings, my story is most likely different from yours. i did not grow up with thoughts of racial segregation. i was brought into a integrated family unit much different than any others i knew back then. this doesn’t mean i didn’t face racial hostilities as a kid and doesn’t mean i don’t now as an adult. i feel the stares when i am with my white friends in public or today when i walk down the street holding hands with my girlfriend who happens to be white. i know it. i sense it. i’m not oblivious. white people and black people alike have the same reactions. just last night as we were walking past a park bench, an african-american female pretended to be reading a book but instead sat smirking with her eyes glued to us as we strolled past hand in hand. the smirk was a symptom of her intolerance. sometimes you just know what a person is thinking. i guess i just don’t care. my mom told me once (after an elderly man told me that if he could, he would beat the black out of me for delivering his newspaper wrong. i was 11 at the time) that if i let people get the best of me regarding the color of my skin, i will always be miserable. so i learned to shake it off. when people told me they couldn’t believe how articulate i was for a black kid, i just shrugged it off. ‘it must be how you were raised, they’d say, knowing i was raised with white parents. apparently black kids are naturally unintelligent and raw when it comes to social skill development. it is amazing how that idea can sub-consciously seep into a person’s thought process. i developed a sense of humor about it, mainly as a defense mechanism, when kids would daily make jokes about me on the school bus, i would simply laugh with them but inside i always could feel the sting of prejudice thoughts.  as i grew older, i initiated the jokes, might as well beat them to the punch right? i would rather start the joke than be the joke. that was my mindset. make it funny!
but. is it funny?
this little narrative is not intended to be about my life. it is about america. it is about the race wars that wage in the back of our minds on a regular occurrence. it is prevalent in every part of our society. we see it in hollywood, where a-list black actors still fight for recognition as oscar worthy candidates for their craft and their talent, not  being good for a black actor. sports has a way of developing reverse racism lately. a white basketball player can normally be compared to larry bird. (when was steve nash last compared to isiah thomas or magic johnson instead of bob cousy and john stockton?) in our neighborhoods we still see racial and class struggles, though the two don’t equally intermingle quite like society assumes it does, but that is a different topic and not one i am trying to exploit here. what i am trying to expose is the racial hostilities that reside in all of us. admit it. we both know that we have thoughts about each other that do not equal reality. i like wearing baggy long shorts. not because i am black but because they are comfortable. i also like rap music, but do i like that because of my race or because i like the flow and the beat and the emotions that are so raw and real it makes me feel like i went through the same pain? do i like journey’s “don’t stop believing” because of the white culture i reside in or because of the memories it creates in my head? see, too often we equate intellect, athletic ability and social aptitude with racial conditions, but in truth, our racial heritage is only a small factor. maybe we are who we are because that is who we were always supposed to be, regardless of the skin that covers us.
dr. king had a dream. it was not a daydream. it was not unattainable. that has been proven. the pursuit of this dream has been the goal ever since it was laid out in front of the world. one day we will be equal. where we go next is up to us. you. me. this story is never-ending.  it never should be. it is the pursuit of the dream.

The Cool.

“If life goes passing you by

Don’t cry

If you breaking the rules

Making your moves

Paying your dues…

Chasing the cool” – Lupe Fiasco -“The Cool”

ahh. the ‘cool‘.

what is that anymore?

what ‘cool’ do we chase today?

who sets the trend?

who breaks the rules we play by?.

magic and larry owned the 80’s. there wasn’t anything more cool than BEAT LA and BOSTON SUCKS chants in june. kurt rambis getting clothes-lined and larry legend lighting up 3’s on anyone who dared to guard him. da bears. ditka. monsters of the midway. cool.  ozzie smith playing shortstop for the cardinals and doing backflips on the field after big plays. epitome of cool. oh yea montana to rice was pretty cool too. the west coast offense was still a niche back then. unstoppable too. ickey woods. the coolest touchdown celebration ever. the ickey shuffle. cool. the dude’s name was ickey. what is cooler than a dude named ickey?
in the 90’s, everybody wanted to be “like mike“. just had to be like mike. of course everybody wanted to be like mike. mike was the man. maybe it was the shoes but air jordan and his six championship rings ruled the world in the 90’s. marv albert’s ‘oh a spectacular move’ call against the lakers in 91, the shoulder shrug against the blazers in 92. 70 win season after 18 months away, michael jordan made cool…well… cool. i suppose  there was a football team in texas that was good in the 90’s – HOW ‘BOUT THEM COWBOYS?!!? emmitt, troy, michael. they made cool look easy. 3 super bowl titles will do that. john elway riding off into the sunset with 2 super bowl rings made cool look real. the people’s champion. that was cool.

now what?

who do we watch today that has not been scarred by scandal,  embarrassment or media sensationalism? where is the love of the game? now we have athletes clamoring for the spotlight that makes neon deion look like an amateur. athletes act like they don’t need to win to  be cool. lebron? ochocinco? t.o.? this is supposed to be cool? twitter and facebook has gotten to them. the cool in the 80’s and 90’s was based on winning first. you didn’t get accolades if you didn’t win.

kobe. he should be cool.

peyton. cool.

brady. cool.

brees. cool.

tiger. cool

a-rod. cool?


cool today is not cool like it was. cool had charisma. cool had a smile. cool had fire. cool had a killer instinct. cool was calm. cool had ice in it’s veins.  now cool is regulated by twitter followers and espn exposure. cool has lost its zest. cool is becoming obsolete. a thing of the past. now athletes trying to be ‘cool’ annoy us. because they don’t carry the same swagger that cool used to have. cool was original. now all we have left is reminiscing of a time when cool really was… cool.

like a parade.

let me start by saying… America is Beautiful.

We have better opportunities here than anywhere. I’m very proud to be an American… but. the other day i saw something that truly disgusted me.

at a large public gathering in a nearby lakeshore town, a woman was speaking about her trips to Honduras, working with young girls at what i presume to be an orphanage there. In order to illustrate the good works her and her teams have done over the years, she decided it would add value to her speech to bring a young Honduran girl, probably 16-17 years old, up with her in front of the crowd of hundreds.

like a parade.

the poor girl was brought in front of the crowd to hold a placard with pictures and stand silent while the lady told the crowd how once you go to another country like Honduras, you realize America is the greatest nation in the world (I believe America to be great, i also believe it was unnecessary to make this point while a Honduran citizen was in her presence). She spoke about how they had brought the girl here to teach her responsibility, get her U.S driver’s license, and teach her English. She was so proud of how much they had done for this girl and how they were hoping she would go back to Honduras to run the Home there. awesome. except…

what is the purpose of American-izing the girl?

yes we do have our way of doing things here that works for us. bringing someone out of their culture, teaching them another culture and then transplanting them back to their native culture is completely counter-productive. besides appearing arrogant about her own good deeds, it is so sad that this view is shared by so many Americans. (the Iraq War for example) we try so hard to spread our ideals around the world that we neglect the simplest of factors = our culture is not THEIR culture. we push our hopes, our dreams, our expectations to other regions of the world where the mindset, the desires are much different from our own.  even our religion is different, with our own American spin.

the message here is that despite our successes (and failures), as Americans it is not our duty to American-ize the world. it is not our right to decide what faith, government, ideals others around the world should believe in. What we have here works, it does not mean it should work globally.  yes, peace and prosperity should abound for everyone, but who decides how that should be applied? do we get to bring people out of their state of culture to teach them that we do it better than they do? I love the United States of America, but we are off base if we think that we have the right and obligation to ensure that everyone does as we do. at least… according to me…


is it just me?

or does it seem like the world has gone chaotic? seemingly, life has turned into the next disaster, natural or otherwise. we wait until we see BREAKING NEWS! across the TV screen and then we sit in some sort of muted awe at what we see. we think, “how could this be?” as if somehow our innocence has been shattered for the first time.

since 1998. we have withstood:











Housing market crash.

Economic meltdown.

Kobe vs. Shaq.

ESPN overload.

Tea Party Activism.

Jersey Shore.

we have experienced a great deal of crisis in a relatively short amount of time. it has become a chaotic world. what do we do with it?? what is our relief? it appears that our way of thinking has become corrupted. by what? media. hollywood. ourselves.

we have been inundated by technology. we have succumbed to the power of “others”– meaning– we have come to expect “others” to take the fall, to be responsible, while accepting less and less responsibilities for our own actions. we blame government. we say it’s all their fault. we form activist groups bordering on hate because we hate that we think the “others” hate us.

when we decide that enough is enough, it is NOT that we say enough of what THEY do is enough. it is what WE do. it is enough of our own action.

we have witnessed a lot. more than we should in a lifetime, let alone a decade. but  blame  does not heal us. it does not repair wounds. once we are able to let go of our own hate, our own selfish pride, our own undignified reactions — then we can try to fix the world.

until then. look inside.

The Beat…

Everyone knows the saying: “it’s just a game”. Implying that it really doesn’t matter in the end. False.

Sports is just as much a part of our community, just as much a fabric of our lives as any other aspect of culture. I could spend most of my time here talking about the business aspect of the sporting industry, which is a $400 billion a year industry, clearly suggesting that sports is more than “just a game”. But I won’t because those numbers speak for themselves.

What I will say is that the impact of sports cannot be measured by dollars and cents. The treasure that we find in sports, from youth sports to professional leagues; is the teamwork, the life lessons, the camaraderie and the way sports allows us to vicariously live a separate life from the mundane-ness we experience daily. Some of my greatest memories as a kid are the summer days playing baseball in the yard, the early fall months of tossing the football around with the neighbors or even elementary school recess soccer. (I was so good, I think I missed my calling!)

Sports captures the creativity in us. Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders, Wayne Gretzky. These guys were just as much artists with their craft as they were athletes. Cal Ripken, Jr. is revered, for what? He just played a game. John Elway is a legend. Why? All he did was play a game right?

It’s not just a game. It’s the beat our hearts makes during the final seconds of overtime. It’s the beat our hearts make when we cling to the edge of our seats as the game-winning shot goes up. It’s the beat of our hearts when we watch a friendly softball game between friends go down to the wire. Sports is not simply a game. It is so much more. It’s the beat…

Still No Replacement for Air.

if the FANS don’t like you, neither will the sponsors. This is the difference between Michael and Lebron, Michael understood that even though he had God-given once-in-a-millennium talent, he had to portray himself as the guy who lives down the street. Heck, even Brett Favre understands that much! LeBron fancies himself as not just a basketball player, but a celebrity, an icon. No one likes athletes and celebrities who act simply because they can or simply because everyone is afraid to tell them no.

how do you replace a replace a legend who refuses to be replaced?

Michael Jordan will grace the cover of 2K Sport’s NBA 2k11 this fall… which is great for the fans, but bad if you are David Stern, Lebron James or any NBA star not named Kobe Bryant (who was on the 2K10 cover). This is a further indictment of the image problems the league continues to face. The most marketable star the 2K Sports people could find to be the lead for their product has been retired since the end of the 2002-03 season (though some could argue that the REAL MJ actually retired in 1998).

Yes Air Jordan is widely accepted as the Greatest of All Time, but we haven’t seen EA Sports come out with John Elway or Joe Montana on the cover of their hit MADDEN NFL series (though they did attempt to insert a “retired” Brett Favre on the cover before his comeback with the Jets a couple seasons ago, but that doesn’t really count does it?). 2K hasn’t produced THE SHOW with Barry Bonds (and never will) as it’s lead.

The point is,  it is incredible that the current NBA 2-time MVP Lebron James is NOT on the cover. Further proof of the lack of star power that today’s NBA athlete truly has. Clearly self-promotion only gets you so far, right “King” James?? He can self-hype himself as KING and promote one-hour specials about himself, where he looks not the least bit comfortable or happy for that matter, but the simple truth is, if the FANS don’t like you, neither will the sponsors. This is the difference between Michael and Lebron, Michael understood that even though he had God-given once-in-a-millennium talent, he had to portray himself as the guy who lives down the street. Heck, even Brett Favre understands that much! LeBron fancies himself as not just a basketball player, but a celebrity, an icon. No one likes athletes and celebrities who act simply because they can or simply because everyone is afraid to tell them no.

The moral of the story remains the same. For all of the attempted “Next Jordan’s”, there is still no replacement for Air Jordan. Until today’s athlete learns to promote their public image like Michael Jordan, there never will be another Mike. At least… According to Me…