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Protests, Patriotism, and Profit–Why the NFL’s Owners Turned on Trump

Trump comments on NFL

Colin Kaepernick set off a firestorm of controversy when he decided to begin his silent protest during last year’s NFL’s season. The decision to kneel cost him his football career, but earned him a place in the cultural zeitgeist as a hero or a villain depending on whom you speak to. At a campaign rally for an Alabama senatorial candidate who is now a footnote at his own campaign event, Donald Trump unloaded a heap of opprobrium upon NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem. Though the invective was directed at all kneeling players in general, it was a thinly veiled reference to Colin Kaepernick. The president of the United States spewed, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a bitch off of the field right now! He’s fired!” He went on to say, “When people like yourselves turn on television, and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem, the only thing you can do better, is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave.” Beyond that, Trump also suggested that the efforts to improve player safety have ruined the game: “Today, if you hit too hard, 15 yards, throw him out of the game…They’re ruining the game, right? They’re ruining the game. It’s hurting the game.”

The entire league now thrown into a maelstrom, the NFL response at the commissioner and ownership levels was swift and severe in their condemnation of Trump’s comments. What’s important to note is that most owners as well as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, made Trump’s insults towards players the focus of their responses. However, I would argue that the motivation behind their strong responses wasn’t the “son of a bitch” comment or the veiled swipe at Kaepernick. Rather, it was the “leave the stadium…pick up and leave” comments. Therein lies the source of their discontent. After all, it’s not as if this was the first time that Donald Trump had singled out Colin Kaepernick for criticism over his protest. However, this was the first time that he called for a boycott of  the NFL because of the protests, and if the Wu-Tang Clan is to be beleived, the NFL’s philosphy is C.R.E.A.M.

The League finds itself in a very vulnerable place right now. Though Kaepernick is not currently on anyone’s team, his actions inspired dozens of other players to take a knee during the national anthem this season. Television ratings and stadium attendence were down even before Trump’s comments this weekend. Amidst continuing controversy over the League’s handling of CTE, it was revealed that disgraced former New England Patriot and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez, had one of the most severe cases of the disease ever recorded.  The NFL is a business first and foremost. And as any business facing countervailing winds in rough seas, the first instinct is to stop taking on water and right the ship.

The NFL is an organization in which 70% of the players are black. From an owner’s perspective, it would have been untenable to remain silent after Trump’s comments when so many players were already taking a knee during the national anthem and concerned that the league was apathetic (or even hostile) to racial inequalities and the impact of CTE on the brain. It would have been conceivable that players who were already angry enough to kneel or raise a fist during the playing of the national anthem, would have become angry enough to refuse to play at all. And as we’ve seen with Kaepernick’s protest, these things tend to spread.

If I were an NFL owner in charge of a 53-man roster in which a majority of the players were black, I would be more inclined to placate my workforce with solidarity (or at least the appearance of it), than to risk their general malaise mushrooming into a strike. Is this a cynical view? Perhaps. But the deafening silence of team owners during Kaepernick’s free agency leads me to believe that their recent conversion to free speech advocates may not have the purest motivations now that the man with the bully pulpit of the White House has weighed in on their business. Make no mistake. NFL owners are not just suddenly seeing the value of protest. Nor are they even asserting the lofty idea that protest can be a form of patriotism. They don’t dislike the president either. In fact, several NFL owners are either Donald Trump’s friends or politial benefactors. What the owners responded to en masse was a potential interruption of their profits. And that’s something that even Donald Trump understands.

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Sunken Place Saturday–Albert Haynesworth

This Sunken Place Saturday, our winner/loser is Albert Haynesworth, former NFL defensive tackle. Years ago, Haynesworth made the non-football related news for pleading no contest to fondling a black waitress’ breast in a D.C. area hotel. During the criminal investigation, Haynesworth denied the accusations allegedly claiming “I know what this is about: [The waitress] is just upset I have a white girlfriend. I couldn’t tell you the last time I dated a black girl.” Let’s pause here for a second. I’m not sure why he feels/felt that not liking black women is a defense against sexually assaulting them. I mean, are we supposed to believe that people sexually assault folks because they like them?

It’s important to note that said white girlfriend was Brittany Jackson, herself a former professional athlete and no stranger to the criminal justice system. Haynesworth and she were a couple for a few years and have a child together. Haynesworth took to Twitter yesterday


to complain that he had been a victim of domestic violence and racial animus at Jackson’s hands for years.  He alleges that Jackson called him nigger several times and that she also physically assaulted him on numerous occassions.

 

Now don’t that beat all? A guy who pled no contest to assaulting a black woman after giving the unprompted proclamation that he has a white girlfriend in an effort to exculpate himself from the assault accusation is now taking to social media to complain that the white woman is not only violent, but racist? Excuse me while I cackle like a billy goat.

You see, Fat Albert has what I call Becky Broke Me Syndrome. It goes something like this. Black guy goes out of his way to date/marry white women, while loudly proclaiming in word or deed his distaste for black women. All goes well for a time. Then everything goes sour in Beckydom. White woman gets murdered (OJ), alleges rape (Kobe), or gets cheated on (Tiger Woods), and black guy has a PR nightmare on his hands.  In the case of  Brittany Jackson, she claims that she just found out that the child she shares with Haynesworth is his seventh child. Child support money tends to get a little thin when you have enough children to field a basketball team with two subs. White people don’t want anything to do with black guy who hurts Becky, so black guy tries to turn back to the black community for support. Black community promptly laughs and points. Black Twitter, per usual, was generous with the slander.

 

For trying throw black women under the bus to extol his love for Becky, and to have said Becky mollywhop him and call him “nigger” for years, Fat Albert Haynesworth has earned his spot in the Sunken Place.

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Unbalanced–This poem blew my mind!


Y’all, every now and again your run into someone who so cleanly and clearly articulates the tangled mess of emotions we feel inside. Let me introduce you to Unruly Spoken a.k.a Jashonia McQuin (pictured above). In her piece “Unbalanced,” she captures the anguish, anger, resilience, and the suffering that comes with mental illness. It’s something we’re taught not to discuss as black women, but she goes there. Read and absorb…

 

UNBALANCED

by Unruly Spoken

Unseen wounds and scars make the battle invisible to those who remain clueless. Internal turmoil that comes with a beautiful smile and pep in her step leads all who see her to believe she is on top of the world. Little do they know that the demons she battles daily make the villains in comic books seem like pound puppies waiting to be adopted. The Dreaded words MENTAL ILLNESS, oh no…HELL NO. Black women are NOT mentally ill, they’re just crazy and controlling. Kiss my ass. We raise your children, clean your homes, suck your dick and stand by you on the front lines while “THE MAN” tries to take it all. White women, we clean your homes, care for your children, do your work while climbing the corporate ladder and you took the elevator. Think that doesn’t stick pins in my psyche? Think again Becky, you and Megan took what I earned and flaunted it in my face. Watch me blow up in my car on the drive home. Oh, Brad asked if chocolate tastes greater with milk deep inside of it, gather your man before I do. I will not fall…..I will not fall. I will not fall for the suck it up and smile line to appease the masses any longer. I will not prance around pretending to be stronger than I am to make the world comfortable around this angry black woman who could have torn this plant to shreds ages ago had she chosen to. How easily one forgets that without us…none of you exists. We fight this war daily and are told to get over it, we think we are weak once we do finally seek help and we hid it from others. We are like beautiful stained glass that has been shattered but can be repaired when the right hands and minds come together to take the time to put us back together again.

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Sunken Place Saturday: Omarosa

Sunken Place Saturday

This week’s nominee for Sunken Place Saturday is Omarosa. Sigh…just her name alone is enough to make us roll our eyes. Ever since she first stepped on the scene as a cast member on the first season of the Apprentice, she has been an attention-seeking opportunist. However, ever since she threw herself into Trump’s halo of conciliatory Negroes, she has firmly ensconced herself in the Sunken Place. Her support of this wretched administration and its orange overlord have been disgusting to watch. She parlayed said support into a White House staffer position in which she does what exactly? Is she in charge of teaching the Caucasian White House Staffers the electric slide? Does she provide the seasoning for White House potluck events? Perhaps she’s just there to convince Trump that one day, everyone will “bow down” to him as their massa/lord and savior/Supreme Leader?

 

During a disastrous appearance at the National Association of Black Journalists conference earlier this summer, she seemed unbothered by the administration’s support for police brutality. The NABJ was having NONE OF IT. There two things I swear fo God, you cannot do in a room full of black people. One of them is clapping on one and three.

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The other one is look like you are defending police brutality. What was a dumpster fire of an appearance promptly had gasoline thrown on it after that.

Maybe if she retreated back to friendlier territory at the White House, things would go better for her? No go. She had worn out her welcome with Massa’s overseer, John Kelly. Her access to Trump has been severely restricted, and word on the street is, that she ain’t long for this job. While it seems to be true that the White Pride Piper himself still likes her, don’t get it twisted. She ain’t kin to him. Her name isn’t Ivanka or Jared, therefore her black ass is expendable. The funny thing is, that when she’s eventually fired, she will have no problem complaining about racism on the job then (as she’s done in the past when working for Donald Trump.) The racism and white supremacy of the Trump administration are okay so long as she can be on the payroll. For that, Omarosa needs to have an eternity of seats in the Sunken Place.

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Losing Kenneka: How the Death of Kenneka Jenkins Highlights that Black Girls and Women aren’t Valued

Kenneka Jenkins. Photo credit: tvone.tv

The death of Kenneka Jenkins, the Chicago-area teen whose body was found in a freezer earlier this week, hit me hard. Oh, no. Not another one, I thought. I scrolled through various news feeds, and each time was struck by the image of the precious young lady with the dimpled smile. She had an entire life ahead of her and was snatched away from the world in circumstances that are still unclear, but very suspicious.

What we do know is that Kenneka was last seen at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel and Conference Center last Saturday night. She had gone there with some friends for a party. We also know that she had gotten there in her mother Tereasa Martin’s vehicle.  According to Martin, Kenneka’s friends called Martin at 4 o’clock in the morning to advise her that they had lost track of Kenneka, but had her phone and were in Martin’s car. These details are enough to make any parent’s heart sink. Martin said that she headed over to the hotel, and after being given the runaround by both the hotel staff and the police, Kenneka’s body was found in the freezer nearly 24 hours after she had first disappeared.

What’s more is that there is a very disturbing Facebook Live video that seems to show Kenneka’s reflection in the sunglasses of the young lady filming the video. Some say that you can distinctly hear someone yelling “Help me!” before the music is abruptly turned up to drown out the sound. The most stomach-churning suspicion being bandied about is that Kenneka’s friends set her up to be sexually assaulted, and for a paltry sum of $200.

Martin says that in the immediate aftermath of the discovery of her daughter’s body, her friends kept changing their stories about the sequence of events that led to Kenneka’s disappearance. Martin further states that neither the hotel staff, nor the police initially took her concerns about her daughter’s safety seriously. Media coverage of Kenneka’s disappearance and subsequent death has been scant.

Unfortunately, this is a painfully familiar scenario when a black girl or woman disappears. The assumption often made is that she’s a criminal, a runaway, or a sex worker. Thousands of disgusting social media comments that lay the blame at the feet of Kenneka herself for her own disappearance and death have made the rounds. “She should have known better,” they say. “She should have picked better friends.”

Contrast that with what happens when young white girls and women disappear from anywhere. Their disappearances and murders become national headlines and we remember their names for years, even decades after they’ve disappeared or died. Natalee Holloway, Jon Benet Ramsey, Elizabeth Smart, etc.–the list goes on and on for white female victims of kidnapping, and murders, with only scant attention ever paid to a young black girl or woman who disappears. Based on the news coverage, you would think that white girls and women are the only ones targeted for kidnappings and murders. Think about it: how many names of black female murder/kidnapping victims can you name that have become national media stories? (I didn’t think so.) The reality is that there are more than 75000 missing black women and girls in the country, but you would never know it based on public perceptions about whose disappearances matter.

Could a more motivated hotel staff or police force have prevented what happened to Kenneka? I don’t know. But when casual observers, trained police agencies, and national media outlets seem resigned to the notion that the disappearances of black girls and women is “normal” and therefore not worthy of diligent followup or news coverage, it doesn’t bode well for women who look like me and my sisters. Kenneka deserved so much better than how her life ended. And in death she deserves even more still. For our own sakes, we all do.

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Sunken Place Saturday Double Issue: Ray Lewis and Steve Harvey

This edition of Sunken Place Saturday is a double issue for two reasons: Ray Lewis and Steve Harvey. These two have never missed an opportunity to coon for ingratiate themselves with wealthy, powerful white men.

First up, everyone’s second favorite football Hall of Fame accused double murderer, Ray Lewis:

Ray Lewis has really been diving head-first into the Sunken Place these days. The former double murder defendant/Ravens football great has gone out of his way to criticize Colin Kaepernick and his national anthem protest. Ever the faithful manservant to white supremacy, Lewis has articulated and “yassuh-ed” every stupid rationalization coming out of the mouths of Kaepernick’s detractors. Lewis’ latest verbal buck and shuffle is a complaint that Kaep’s girlfriend, Nessa Diab kept him from getting signed to the Ravens. Diab very famously posted the photo of Lewis and Raven’s owner Steve Bisciotti embracing à la Stephen and Mr. Candy. The picture didn’t have a caption, but it definitely spoke volumes, nonetheless.

Ray-Ray complained the photo comparison was a “racist gesture”, and I’m not sure why. The comparison was pretty apt if you ask me. Bisciotti is an owner. Mr. Candy was an owner. Stephen worked for Mr. Candy for decades. Ray-Ray worked for Massa Mr. Bisciotti for 17 years. Stephen frequently and loudly criticized Django. Ray-Ray frequently and loudly criticized Kaepernick. Stephen was Mr. Candy’s emissary and cosigned everything he did. Ray-Ray was Bisciotti’s emissary and cosigned everything he did.  Both white men have used their faithful black manservants as their personal Negro whisperers. Ray Lewis seems committed to the notion that Mr. Bisciotti is “good white folks” whose sensibilities Diab and Kaepernick shouldn’t upset.

I don’t know what to make of guys like Ray Lewis. He doesn’t see the ridiculousness of pretending that Bisciotti didn’t blink twice about having a former double murder defendant signed to his roster, but somehow really struggled with whether or not to sign Kaepernick (who has committed no crime whatsoever).  For that idiocy and more, Ray Lewis has earned his place in the Sunken Place.

 

Next up, we have everyone’s favorite oversized porcelain veneer enthusiast, Steve Harvey.

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When he’s not busy giving women bad information in his books and in beauty pageants, he is a full-time white supremacy apologist and opportunist. Whether it’s allowing disgraced racist Paula Deen to participate in his mentorship program for black boys, or agreeing to sit down with Donald Trump to discuss the needs of the black community, Harvey is a willing flag-bearer for white supremacy if he thinks it can get him some press or earn him a coin or two. This week, he lamented that he should have listened to his wife and not taken the meeting with Trump, and that he was “surprised” at all the backlash he received for meeting Foolius Caesar in January.

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However, Harvey still defended his decision to take the meeting saying:

“I have an obligation to take a seat at the table when invited.” He continued, “Change can only happen if you sit at the table. If you’re not at the table you can’t even… suggest what we should be doing. Therefore, it was very important for me to take the meeting. The only way we can heal the divide in this country is through conversation…If I’m going to keep getting stabbed at, then at least while you’re stabbing me, you should understand my intent for taking the meeting in the first place.”

I call bullshit. Why on earth, with all the talented academics, politicians, and civil rights leaders in the black community, would a newly elected president think that the host of Family Feud is the best person to reach out to in that community? Harvey knew he was being used as window dressing and he was okay with it. He figured that the meeting would ingratiate him with people who only watched Fox News and Family Feud on TV. Now, I’m not saying that those people are Trump voters, but if the Cracker Barrel fits, Steve Harvey’s going to shuck and jive in it. That’s why Steve Harvey has earned his spot in this weekend’s edition of Sunken Place Saturday.

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US Open Full of Black Girl Magic

Arthur Ashe Stadium was full of Black Girl Magic today as Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams each won their respective quarter-final matches to advance to the semi-finals in this year’s US Open. Stephens defeated Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia (6-3, 3-6, 7-6). Though Stephens might be a new name to a more casual tennis fan, she’s been on the professional circuit since 2007. She’s known for being an all-court player and for her well-balanced playing style. This will be her second semi-final singles appearance in a grand slam tournament.  Her first semi-final appearance was at the 2013 Australian Open.

Venus Williams needs no introduction. The seven-time Grand Slam winner put away Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitová (6-3, 3-6, 7-6)  this evening. The 37 year-old Williams will very likely become the #1 ranked tennis player in the world if she wins her semi-final match against Stephens. Venus has dazzled tennis fans for the last two decades with her formidable serve and adroit play at the baseline. No matter who wins in the semifinals, a black woman will definitely appear at the US Open Finals this year. Who can be mad at that?

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Issa and Molly Lose at Life Again

Issa and Molly See the foolishment in each other but not themselves

Wowzers. What to say about the disaster twins Issa and Molly? These women keep losing at life. The distance between reality and these two never ceases to amaze me. First we have Issa who is still salty (pardon the pun) about her fellatio facial with Daniel and the fact that her hoe-tation skills are incredibly sub-par. For someone who made such a big production of performing oral sex (she took a class for it!), she is still shockingly angry that Daniel came even though he gave her fair warning. She talks to Molly on the phone so that they can lament together about this predictable ending to a blow job. Molly even volunteers to egg his house as revenge. What grade are these women in?

During this self-pity session, Molly confesses to Issa that she’s still seeing Dro despite the fact that he’s married (but in an open relationship). They both judge each other for their bad romantic decisions. What is relatable about these two is that they can totally see when the other person is failing at life, but they cannot see it in themselves. This quality is equal parts endearing and frustrating.

Tiffany invites Issa to Derek’s birthday party

Meanwhile, Tiffany has arranged a birthday dinner for Derek, and invites both Issa and Lawrence. Tiffany low-key irks the shit of me. She definitely has delusions of grandeur. She’s so invested in portraying the her marriage as the union of a power couple, that she’s willing to put her supposed friend, Issa in the uncomfortable position of having to see her ex in public.  I’m curious to see if her relationship gets exposed as a fraud at some point. After seething to herself that she has to see her ex again, Issa decides to Facebook stalk him only to find that he’s already blocked her. This makes her BIG MAD. Cut to another one of Issa’s angry mirror soliloquies.

Lawrence is just as clueless as ever

Lawrence is a nice enough guy, but seriously, he just exhausts me. He’s apparently started hanging out with his work colleague Aparna. He tries to play it cool when his coworkers ask him what he did last night, but Aparna has already divulged to the group that they hung out. This is one of the major reasons why office romances are a terrible idea. (Full disclosure: I married my boss, but I can judge Lawrence and Aparna because they are fictional characters, so whatevs.) Lawrence exhausts me because he still hasn’t taken time to deal with his emotions about his breakup with Issa. He decides that it would be a good idea to bring Aparna to Derek’s birthday dinner, despite the fact that he knows all his friends will be there, and so will his ex. Who just brings a random plus one to a private birthday dinner? Lawrence, that’s who. Sigh…

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Molly tries to negotiate for a raise at work that doesn’t go well

Poor Molly. While she’s busy pining away for a married man who rarely takes her out in public (while simultaneously ignoring a brother who seems genuinely interested in her AND emotionally available), her professional career is struggling as well. Her “white boy summit” to petition for a raise doesn’t go well at all. They won’t even agree to discuss a pay raise until next year. Meanwhile, they are paying her white male colleague more than her. Welcome to being a black woman in corporate America, Molly. It sucks, doesn’t it?

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Guess who’s coming to dinner?

The birthday dinner happens and Molly is humiliated when she realizes that she is not someone who Dro will bring out in public as his lady. She played the embarrassed side chick relegated to stealing glances from across the room and wallowing in her own misery. I rolled my eyes so hard, that I think I saw my brain. This was beyond pathetic, and I was embarrassed for her.

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Then Lawrence shows up to a very nice restaurant with Aparna in head to toe denim like an extra from Brokeback Mountain. He seems embarrassed and says he didn’t realize that the birthday dinner was a sit down dinner. Even though it’s in a nice restaurant. And nice restaurants are known for serving people meals in a seated position. Everyone just kind of rolls their eyes at Lawrence showing up with an uninvited plus one. Sometimes I think Lawrence has a traumatic brain injury. He’s just really bad at life to me.

Issa and Lawrence exchange tense glances at one another before Issa knocks back cocktails like a sailor on weekend furlough. Irritated at the whole situation, Issa eventually storms out and Lawrence follows behind her. They argue outside the restaurant and throw some very nasty verbal jabs at each other. We find out the reason Lawrence blocked Issa on social media is because he was tired of being triggered by seeing the photo of her and Daniel at the diner. He calls her a ho, and let’s his fragile masculinity show. She attacks his career, laziness, and depression. It wasn’t a pretty scene.

Meanwhile, when Dro gets up to go to the bathroom, Molly senses an opportunity to confront him about neglecting her all night. They go into the restaurant bathroom to discuss things. And by “discuss things,” I mean Dro puts his Blaxican voodoo on her and has her propped up on the bathroom sink and has her eyes rolling into the back of her head. Molly’s dignity goes down the drain of that sink after Dro tells her to wait a few minutes before leaving the bathroom so they won’t be seen exiting together. I’m beyond through with Molly at this point. She knows better than this, but continues down this path of heartbreak. As she exits the bathroom, she runs into Issa, who instantly knows what’s transpired, and helps her friend adjust her dress and her hair. She doesn’t say anything judgemental, but you know on the inside she’s like:

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Molly returns home alone and talks to her mother on the phone. She finally gets to talk to her mother about why she stayed in the marriage with her father. Her mother says simply that she loved him more than he hurt her. After they hung up, Dro texted Molly asking to set up another date. Molly texts back that she can’t do this anymore, but I’m not convinced. Something about him makes Molly very stupid.

Bad night gets worse

After the horrible dinner,  Issa returns home to find a rent increase notice on her door. This is the fly on her pile of shit day. It’s all too much. She responds by tearing up all her cheap swap meet furniture.