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The Milwaukee Bucks and “Big Bucks” Put Racism in the “Penalty Box.”

by Charlie Barber | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Last Word | September 7th, 2020

“The vast majority of African-Americans who lived in this land in the first 246 years of what is now the United States lived under the terror of people who had absolute power over their bodies and their very breath, subject to people who faced no sanction for any atrocity they could conjure.” - Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of our Discontents, 2020

“The NFL is the most conservative, Republican and nationalistic of major sports leagues, despite (a)socialist profit-sharing agreement that billionaire owners enter into. (San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin) Kaepernick, who is of mixed race, said he was kneeling to protest injustice against African-Americans and other minorities, namely by police. More than 83% of NFL fans are white, according to a Reuters report…, and fans are 20% more likely to be Republicans than Democrats. Nearly 70% of the players, meanwhile, are black, according to data from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. NFL owners, with a few exceptions, lean Republican; several of them donated to (President Donald) Trump’s campaign, and some donated $1 million apiece to his inauguration committee.” – Mark Leibovich, Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times, 2018

“It’s great that the NBA did this and MLB and the WNBA, they have a lot of Black players in those leagues. But for all these (white NHL) athletes in here to take a stand and say, ‘you know what—we see the problem too, and we stand behind you,’ said (Las) Vegas (Knights) forward Ryan Reaves, who is Black…‘I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. The statement they’ve made today is something that’s going to last.” – John Wawrow, AP/Bismarck Tribune, “NHL uses pause to focus on race issues,” 8/29/20

“(Former NYC Mayor Mike) Bloomberg announced Thursday that he would give $100 million to the nation's four historically Black medical schools: Meharry, Howard U., Morehouse, and Charles R. Drew U. of Medicine and Science. The gift…awarded to medical students in grants up to $100,000, will provide scholarships for 800 students. Nearly every medical student currently enrolled and receiving financial aid over the next four years will get a scholarship, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies.” - ABC News, 9/6/20

“‘We want to respect protestors, but we don't want to tolerate violence. And that's always the line. We want to support our police,” Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) - ABCTV "This Week,” September 6, 2020

“‘The foundation of every great community really is the opportunity to live in a safe community,’ Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) said…on ‘This Week,’ ABC TV” – 9/6/20

“The city of Rochester, New York, is moving the crisis intervention department and its budget out of the police department amid outrage and protests over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man with mental health issues who died after officers placed a spit hood over his head and restrained him…‘We had a human being in need of compassion…’ Mayor Lovely Warren said. ‘We have to own the fact that in the moment we did not do that.’ Police Chief La'Ron Singletary told reporters that he recognized the need for reform in his department and that he was working with experts and clinicians to get outpatient services for those who struggle with mental health and are in repeated contact with police.” - NBC News, 9/6/20

Decisions by white players of the National Hockey League to support Black Lives Matter in general, and a few fellow players of color specifically, is remarkable. In this new landscape of social and economic justice, such an act by well-heeled skaters practicing “political interference” from “Covid-19 secure bubbles” in Canada, may seem minor, but it is actually a very big deal.

What actually occurred was a convergence of what were, if effect, wildcat strikes by millionaire salaried laborers; then keen-eyed leverage of the value of their labor, with rather than against

their billionaire owners, and then a planned, united front, with the speed and timing intrinsic to their respective sports, against systemic racism and “savage” capitalism in polling places around the U.S., November 3rd. Adam Smith and Karl Marx on the same page. Who’d-a-thunk it?

Ice hockey, amateur and professional, has a culture of sustained speed and occasional violence, played by men and women who are otherwise quite gentle. Hockey fans, however, are often less restrained in their passions, especially when fueled by booze. This “old time” reality has special meaning for me in terms of Chicago’s policing and racial situation in the 1980s. An African American teaching colleague of mine at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) on Chicago’s North Side, Dr. Ken A., was an accomplished professional who chose to live in the inner city, the pre-gentrified West Side, rather than accept the redlining of his people, without sharing their fate at the receiving end. His home, well kept, with a fenced in front lawn for his dog, was adjacent to the home of the Chicago Bulls basketball team and Chicago Blackhawks hockey team. The Bulls served beer. The Blackhawks served beer and hard liquor.

Dr. Ken and I had known each other since 1984. The year before, Chicago’s first black Mayor, Harold Washington, had appointed Chicago’s first black Police Chief -- known for having no trouble talking to white cops in those troubled times. The same was true for Dr. Ken, coexisting congenially with Chicago cops on the beat in a neighborhood which routinely endured disgorging Blackhawks fans onto their streets - some drunk as skunks. Property protection required vigilance for black residents as well as white cops. Ken often tended to his dog in his front yard at the end of hockey games. One hockey night, a particularly drunken fan was making his way past Ken’s home, to a parked car, where, one would hope someone else would be driving. There was a cop nearby, in “jerk containment mode,” of white visitors from the suburbs rather than the hostile occupation of the black residents that we now associate with Ferguson, MO; Minneapolis, MN; Louisville, KY, and Kenosha, WI. The hockey fan decided to relieve himself on Ken’s grassy parkway, between his fenced in home and the street.

When Ken asked him to desist from soiling his property, the fan replied in racist and arrogant tones, and defied Ken to do anything about it. Ken responded that he didn’t care one way or the other, but that his dog was very upset--quietly unlatching his front gate. The rather large dog, trained to protect his master and his territory, but not to kill, unleashed himself in full snarling fury on the obnoxious hockey fan. Screaming and cursing while on the ground, and presumably having released the rest of his beer inside rather than outside of his clothing, the fan begged the nearby cop to “do something!”

In 2020 we might expect that the discerning white cop of the 1980s might have done something to relieve the stress of the white man, underneath a dog who resented such pissing on his black master’s grass, except that the cop was laughing too hard. Uncontrollably, in fact, for seconds, giving way to minutes. This was Harold Washington’s Chicago, not Donald Trump’s White House fortress. Finally the man in blue told Ken: “I guess you’d better call off your dog,” and the incident was closed, with no injuries to anyone, except, perhaps, to the ego and pride of the jerk fan. He picked himself up and quickly repaired to a tonier part of the city, or to the suburbs. I couldn’t wait to share this delightful anecdote with my KGB canine and animal consultants.

High Plains Reader: Now THAT my friends is “Law and Order” I can believe in, rather than the occupying police forces that black communities have been suffering in the last forty years.

Putin: Make that 400 years and you’ll be more accurate, but I do grant that cops on the beat in the neighborhood are better than cops who beat up on neighborhoods.

Rasputin: Mayor Washington (1983-1987) died too soon, and organized white-backlash-for-profit put George Wallace and Richard Nixon racist rhetoric back into “Law and Order.” It was too much for Mayor Richie Daley, who, unlike his father, “Boss” Daley, was racially tolerant.

Chicago Dog: One of the great rhetorical crimes committed against black people by white power brokers in business, politics and the media has been the peddling of the idea that they don’t want law and order in their communities as much as white people do. President Trump still uses this corrosive trope and sells it successfully to, perhaps, a third of the American people.

HPR: Ralph Nader’s Princeton University classmates of 1955 had this myth explode for them, when they ventured into selected inner city sections of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. They were all representative of the “Establishment” in those three cities: bankers, businessmen, lawyers, etc. I met some of Nader’s Chicago classmates while I was organizing small teaching teams for NEIU in black and brown communities in Chicago and Waukegan, IL from 1998-2000. Princeton’s Class of ’55 had ties to two institutions that had not yet left Chicago’s West Side since the place got burned out in the despairing riots that followed the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968: Sears Roebuck & Co. and Mount Sinai Hospital.

Señor Perro: Imagine that! Movers and Shakers who were willing to shake up things on behalf of people of color, rather than at their expense.

HPR: These weren’t “Nader’s Raiders” suing the seamier side of the Establishment. They were privileged white men from the “Establishment,” visiting a black community to find out what was needed. They had no pat answers, so they listened. When they asked what the number one health hazard was they were told: “Too many of us are getting shot. We need more cops.”

That request was relatively easy to fulfill. Ralph Nader’s classmates simply had a little talk with Mayor Richie Daley, and greater numbers of Chicago’s finest appeared on Chicago’s West Side soon thereafter; just as they had deployed under Mayor Washington a decade before, without prodding from Ivy Leaguers with good intentions and connections.

Mr. Swamp Fox: These folks on the West Side, I take it, asked for cops known to your friend Ken, rather than the “shoot first, gaslight questions later,” kind of policing making news today.

Mr. Crying Wolf: Distortions surrounding “Defund the Police” slogans are a throwback to those old “Law n’ Order lies” that black folks don’t value safe communities. What’s needed is to fund police and front line professionals who pack common sense and learned tolerance rather than military hardware and juvenile fears, as now may be happening in Rochester, NY

HPR: Isn’t “Law n’ Order hysteria” what Democratic challenger, Vice President Joe Biden is trying to combat with his visit to the Jacob Blake family in Kenosha, WI, as opposed to President Trump’s Mussolini style descent on the place? Biden said “hope” needs to supplant “fear.”

Lena: Of course! But the struggle facing America is to peacefully and democratically replace a sociopath in the White House with someone of empathy like Joe Biden. It’s not going to be easy.

Trump, after all, has said that anyone who serves in the U.S. Armed Forces, rather than himself, is a “sucker and a loser;” and he and Attorney General Barr, with help from Vlad Putin, are proactively sowing distrust about the election process and results in advance of November 3rd.

Ms. Recovering Republican Lap Dog: And those who serve Donald Trump, like Bill Barr, Mark Meadows, and Sean Hannity. Are they suckers and losers? What’s in it for them?

Schickelgruber: Other than money, or the “rush of power” that placed a white police officer’s knee on the neck of an expiring George Floyd for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, Lord only knows.

HPR: I get the feeling, every now and then, that AG Bill Barr is only “playing an Attorney General on TV.” Then I see what he did to destroy the credibility of the Mueller Report, and continues to do in interfering with the rights and needs of Congress and Americans to know what’s really going on in this country, and with Vlad Putin. Barr is real, and he’s evil.

Kim Dog Un: Don’t forget what Barr “doesn’t do,” to reign in the violence of domestic terrorists that he was sworn to uproot in his oath of office. He claims “logic” is what guides his judgment that voters who choose Biden over Trump might somehow be cheating. I wonder what logic tells Barr that he is going to be safe from legal accountability, if he acts on such falsehoods.

HPR: Insane people do act within their own logic, twisted though it might be. Do Barr and Meadows have to “fake” insanity in order to serve Trump at this point?

Madame Inspector Chen: Perhaps, but polling and primary elections indicate that voters are fed up with “Trump science” that leaves out scientists, “Trump Law and Order” that delivers neither, and nostalgia that neither soothes fears for the present nor nourishes hope for the future.

Omar Khayyam: In a rather poetic combination, voters in the Massachusetts Democratic Primary of September 1, rejected nostalgia and a younger member of the Kennedy clan in favor of incumbent Senator Ed Markey, an old white male Fighting Liberal from working class background, looking to the future with a “Green New Deal; ” and enthusiastically supported by a self described “Okie:” Harvard Law Professor, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and a young American of Puerto Rican descent, rising star Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). This is change every American age, gender and color group can believe in.

Mr. Swamp Fox: Trump has shattered norms and laws at the federal level, but there are still too many norms and laws in place at the State and Local level, including the use of paper trail ballots, that neither he, nor Bill Barr, nor Moscow Mitch, nor Vlad Putin can overcome, I think.

Chicago Dog: We’ll see. The world watches as pro sports tell their viewers in broadcasts of hockey, basketball, baseball, and football that: Black Lives Matter, while also giving out voter registration information, as well as opening up their arenas for the upcoming General Election.

Putin: Trump and his minions will run from reality, of course, right up to January 20th, 2021, but they have betrayed too many Americans of genuine courage and determination. These cowards won’t be able to hide from truths of how totally they have betrayed your country.

Prudence Possum: Agatha Alligator tracked down this hopeful message from a new focus group within our unique ecosystem, “Swamp creatures for clean air and clean water:”

“Reinstalling President Jimmy Carter’s Solar Panels.”……………………..Headless Horseman
When young and old together act as one;
To heal the wounds of generations past.
They can produce a “Green New Deal” to last
In bold rebuke of: ‘It just can’t be done.’

A planet filled with beings black and white;
Must blend or die amidst a drowning crowd
Of futile fears and hatreds, soft, or loud;
Refusing to advance into the light.

Brown, red, and yellow citizens unite;
Around the world to cheer a culture change
In U.S.A: Away from former greed
In favor of a kinder, gentler fight
To tame the beasts of fear, disease; and range
Of evils, that would doom our human need.  

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