Tag Archives: Donald Trump

When “Shut-Up and Play” Hits Home

23 Feb
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St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler, picture here with his wife Darya, who is from Iran,, received some hate-filled messages on social media for expressing concern that President Trump’s executive order banning Muslims from coming to the U.S. would affect his wife’s family. Iran is one of seven countries listed on Trump’s executive order. Photo courtesy of Youtube.

When Black professional athletes are often told to stick to sports, sometimes it’s asking too much.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

I used to think of sports as a way to bring people of different backgrounds together with the possibility of getting to know each other and learning somehow to negotiate the things that divide us.

During my years as a sports writer, I’ve found that more often than not, that notion is still a long, long, way off, especially when it’s an African-American athlete who dares to speak out on race in a way that’s critical of American society.

Dexter Fowler, St. Louis Cardinals newly signed outfielder, recently found that out the hard way. During an interview with ESPN, Fowler was asked about the Executive Order President Donald J. Trump recently signed banning immigration and travel from seven Muslim nations.

This ban hit home for Fowler because his wife, Darya Baghbani is from Iran, one of the seven countries listed in the order. Fowler, like any husband and father would, expressed how the travel ban would affect his family.

“It’s huge,” Fowler told ESPN. “Especially anytime you’re not able to see your family. It’s unfortunate.”

Never mind that Fowler neither mentioned Trump by name nor said anything disparaging about him, the speedy Cardinals outfielder was hit on social media with “shut-up and play!”, a time-honored bon mot that’s been thrown at a who’s-who of Black athletes that includes Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, the Black players who boycotted the American Football League All-Star game in 1965 and more recently Colin Kaepernick and Martellus Bennett.

That plantation mentality has been ingrained in the minds of some White sports fans and even sportswriters when it comes to African-American athletes. You can hit homeruns, slam-dunk from the free-throw line, and score touchdowns all you want, but once Black athletes veer off of that very straight line and talk about the ills they see in society, they’re told to remember their place and to be grateful that they live in a country that allows them to earn millions of dollars from playing a sport.

What’s really sad to me is that the White sports fans who spew this kind of vitriol seem to believe that Black athletes give up their First Amendment rights the moment they sign their first pro contract or even when they sign that collegiate letter of intent. You also have to wonder what their attitude toward the 13th Amendment is. I mean, it was former St. Louis Cardinals great Curt Flood who once said is a slave is still a slave even if he’s a well-paid one.

But even worse than telling a Black athlete to just shut up and play is the hypocrisy that sometimes comes with that statement. For example, when white athletes like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady refused to visit the White House when President Barack Obama was president, none of the fans criticizing Black Patriots players like Martellus Bennett for skipping the visit or giving Fowler grief would ever tell Brady to just shut up and play.  He’s an American hero to them.

That’s the folly of conflating nationalism, patriotism and racism in these situations. If an athlete like Fowler can’t even express concern for his family without being raked over the coals for making a “political statement”, we have a problem.

The larger issue in my mind is that Blacks, the LGBTQ community, Hispanics, and Muslims are supposed to just lay down and take it on the chin in the face of bigotry. It reminds me of the mentality of calling out the Native Americans as “savages” for daring to fight back against the theft of their land.

In the end, all Fowler did was express concern for how a misguided policy decision on the part of a President who built is entire campaign and large chunks of his administration on fear and bigotry. To his credit, Fowler has managed to stand is ground despite the backlash.

But to the people telling Fowler to shut up and play I say this:

When you’re telling a fellow American to “just shut up and play”, you’re not only being a bigot, you’re also being downright un-American because the Constitution of the United States gives every American the right to speak his mind—

And that’s whether you like it or not.

 

Holder Holds Court at DNC: Praises Black Lives Matter, Urges African-Americans to Support Clinton

28 Jul
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Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Addresses a public meeting held by the Congressional Black Caucus at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Photo by Chris Murray.

At the Wednesday meeting of the Democratic Party’s Black Caucus, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder talked police reform, Hillary Clinton, and how the only thing that matters as much as Black Lives are Black Votes.

 

 

By Chris Murray

PHILADELPHIA-When Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder came to speak to the members of the Democratic Party’s Black Caucus as part of Wednesday’s Democratic National Convention activities, he pulled no punches.

There’s a lot at stake for the Black Community in this election, and making sure your electoral voice is heard is going to be important.

In a rousing 19-minute speech in front of 300 people at the Philadelphia Convention Center, Holder urged African-Americans to cast their votes for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton and to support the Black Lives Matter movement in its efforts to stop police brutality.

“There are huge things at stake here and a protest vote for somebody other than Hillary Clinton is a vote for [Republican Presidential nominee] Donald Trump,” Holder said in a speech that brought the crowd to its feet several times. “[Black Lives Matter] is in the best tradition of the Civil Rights movement. They’re trying to move this country to a place where it ought to be and so you all defend Black Lives Matter and you defend the use of that term.”

Holder reflected on his time working with the Justice Department and also talked about what he feels is unfinished business in areas such as gun safety, restoring the Voting Rights Act, and repairing the relationship between African-Americans and the police.

A feisty Holder didn’t hold back his criticism of Trump, Congressional Republicans and the National Rifle Association.  He said in the midst of the Newtown massacre, there was an opportunity to pass gun safety regulation, but the legislators, afraid of the anger of the National Rifle Association, voted against it.

“In spite of the fact that people 90 percent of the people wanted gun safety regulations put in place, but the gun lobby convinced people in Congress not to vote that way. It’s time for us to say, we’ve had enough,” Holder said.  “We’ve simply had enough and we demand that reasonable gun legislation is put in place.”

Holder said too many Americans, especially the African-American community have felt the harsh impact of gun violence and it is time to with legislation to regulate the access to guns.

“The fact that too many people have access to guns they should not have had access to,” He said. “You think about the carnage that has happened in the nation in general and the African-American community in particular, that for me is a defining issue.”

Holder was also critical of the Supreme Court decision in Shelby vs. Alabama, calling it the worst decision in the history of the court. The decision in Shelby gutted an important provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and said that Congress exceeded its power in enforcing the Constitution’s 14th and 15th Amendments.

“Five members of the Supreme Court, including Clarence Thomas, took it upon themselves to say the Voting Rights act as constituted was unconstitutional and that has to change,” Holder said.

Holder said it’s important for African-Americans to vote for Clinton because a Supreme Court with Trump as president would be disastrous.

“The guy who ran ‘The Apprentice’ is going to pick people for the Supreme Court,” he said as the crowd roared in laughter.

In addition to his criticism of Trump, Holder took some shots at the Republican-controlled Congress for not confirming Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court after the death of Antonin Scalia. He said it was all more the reason that African-Americans should cast their vote for Clinton.

“We have a very qualified guy in Merrick Garland … who, if the Senate would do their damned jobs would be on the Supreme Court right now,” Holder said. “The delay that he’s had to endure is unprecedented and the notion that a President with one year to go in his term can’t pick a Supreme Court justice, tells you all you need to know about the Republican Party.”

Holder said there has to be mutual respect between the police and the African-American community. He said the African-American community needs the police, but law enforcement needs to deal with the community with fairness and dignity.

Finally, Holder ended his speech by praising the Black Lives Matter movement and the role they have played in educating the public on the issue of police brutality.

“For too long in our history, Black lives didn’t matter and now we’re saying in 2016 that Black lives do matter,” he said to a standing ovation.

Black Voters Must Demand Accountability Beyond Election Day

10 May

African-American Voters Need to  Hold Clinton’s Feet to the Fire and Make Sure Delivers on her Promises 

By Chris Murray 

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun 

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Black leaders like Congressman John Lewis, D-Ga, (left) have endorsed Democratic Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, but will she deliver on her promises to African Americans? Photo by ajc.com.

Now that the barrage of debates and campaign stump speeches of the 2016 President Election primary season is almost over, we all kind of know that the general election is going to come down to the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, businessman Donald Trump, and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who appears to be the eventual Democratic nominee.

As it stands right now, Clinton has 2,205 of the 2,383 she needs to secure the Democratic nomination. Her opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders has just 1,362 delegates and doesn’t have a mathematical shot to win.

Despite the rumblings of the “Bernie or Bust” crowd, a group of Sanders supporters who have said that they’ll either write Sanders in, vote for Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate, or in some extreme cases, vote for Trump in hopes of fomenting a “revolution” that would sweep Sanders to power, Sanders and his supporters will most likely unite behind Clinton at some point.

One of the main reasons that Clinton nearly has the Democratic nomination in her grasp is because of the Black vote. Whether we’re talking South Carolina, Pennsylvania or Maryland, Clinton seems to resonate with Black voters in a way that Sanders hasn’t been able to despite having prominent Blacks like rapper Killer Mike, Cornel West, Spike Lee and Harry Belafonte in his corner.

According to Jonathan Capehart, a political columnist for the Washington Post, Clinton has won the heart of Black voters by tying herself to the legacy of President Barack Obama, talking about the way that income inequality is impacted by race and how that hurts the Black community, and putting some of the onus on Whites for healing the country’s racial divide.

Clinton has also been on Black radio stations, attended social events, played dominoes with the brothers and has even admitted to carrying a bottle of hot sauce in her bag, something that we’ve all done from time to time whether or not we want to admit it.

But while some in the Black community are happy to give Clinton their votes because she’s hobnobbed with them, the brothas and sistuhs need to make sure that she remembers us if she wins the presidency. The Black voters who cast their lot with Clinton need to hold her feet to the fire and insist that she keeps her promises to them.

It’s something we haven’t been all that good at of late. Despite having the power to elect mayors, congressmen, state representatives governors and even a President, the Black community hasn’t figured out how to hold those politicians we got elected accountable to carry out the promises they made at our local church or community fish fry. Unemployment among Blacks is still high, inner city schools are underfunded and our communities are beset by violence in the form of both crime and police brutality.

We’ll be at the polls to pull down the lever or press the button on Election Day. But what happens after that?  From my own perspective, we look at our politicians, especially those who look like us, as if they were some kind of Messiah who will take away all of our problems with one stroke of the pen or a magic wand.

Even worse is that once the folks we elect are sworn in, we stop paying attention until we see them again during the next election.

The next great movement for Blacks is to become more engaged in the political process. We have to be more informed citizens, starting with something as a basic as being active in local community organizations, using social media for something other than posting fight videos, bombarding your local councilman’s office with email on a particular topic, or showing up at his or her headquarters with protesters to demand change.

But no matter what method we choose to engage with, the Black community has got to make politicians accountable to our issues. That old Frederick Douglass adage about power conceding nothing without demand is in play here and it’s time for Blacks to make that demand of all of our public officials, no matter what race or party affiliation.

We’ve done it before.

In 1960, the Black vote swept John F. Kennedy into the Oval Office after he visited the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Jr. in jail and subsequently helped him get released. On the campaign trail, Kennedy promised to end discrimination in public housing with an executive order, but once he got into office, he dragged his feet.

Blacks forced President Kennedy to pay attention and do as he promised by taking to the streets, conducting sit-ins, and boycotting. The end result was Civil Rights legislation.

That’s what we have to do now.

We have to be vigilant about this even when we lose a few battles along the way. When I hear Black Sanders supporters say they’re not going to vote in the general election, I shake my head because they don’t realize that they can fight for their issues even if it their candidate is not on the ballot.

The tactics will probably be different from those that were used during the Civil Rights movement, but we have to sit down and figure out a way to make it work for us. Saying that the game is rigged or we shouldn’t participate in voting is a cop out.

The most important that Dr. King left us is the realization that we have to vigilant in our fight to make those in power accountable to us.

“We have to give ourselves to this struggle until the end,” King said, “We’ve got to see it through.”

And seeing it through begins at the Ballot Box, but it doesn’t end there.