Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kareem plays D for Obama.(Edge of Sports)(Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, BarackObama)(Column).

ShopPBS.OrgOnline Fitness Logo USA, LLC

ArabicChinese (Simplified)Chinese (Traditional)DeutchEspanolFrenchItalianJapaneseKoreanPortugueseRussian

Who would have thunk that one of the most intelligent comments on Jeremiah Wright would come from a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame? The man is six-time MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Writing for The Huffington Post , Abdul-Jabbar made very plain what Obama and the Democratic Party have refused to do: elucidate why Wright's angry sermons connect on the South Side of Chicago and beyond.

"Reverend Wright suggested in one of his sermons that AIDS was intentionally allowed to infect people because it would probably do most of its damage in the black community. White Americans see this viewpoint as racist paranoia," Abdul-Jabbar wrote. "But black Americans remember the Tuskegee experiment when black men who had syphilis were left untreated intentionally so the progress of the disease could be studied by government doctors. This actually happened and its memory has caused a collective distrust of doctors in the black community for which white Americans cannot see any rational basis. Again we are stuck with dealing with the evil deeds that were done before many of us were born."

Kareem isn't spending his days trading on his name, or opening a Starbucks in Harlem. He writes books such as his latest, On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance . He also has a radical personal history well worth remembering, particularly this year, the fortieth anniversary of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

Most people remember those games as the backdrop for Tommie Smith and John Carlos's black-glove-fisted salute. But Kareem, then known as Lew Alcindor, was a player in that drama, as well. He was a proud member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, an organization that threatened an African American boycott of the games.

Unlike the other OPHR members, largely a collection of little known track and field stars, "Big Lew" was the most prominent college athlete in the United States and played center for John Wooden's dynastic UCLA. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four for an unprecedented three straight years.

Alcindor was expected to lead the '68 USA Olympic team to gold. He joined the black athletes' revolt instead. "I got more and more lonely and more and more hurt by all the prejudice and finally I made a decision," he said to Sports Illustrated . "I pushed to the back of my mind all the normalcies of college life and dug down deep into my black studies and religious studies. I withdrew to find myself. I made no attempt to integrate. I was consumed and obsessed by my interest in the black man, in Black Power, black pride, black courage."

At the founding conference for OPHR, the soft-spoken Alcindor made a speech that put the crowd on its feet. "I'm the big basketball star, the weekend hero, everybody's All-American," he said. "Well, last summer I was almost killed by a racist cop shooting at a black cat in Harlem. He was shooting on the street where masses of people were standing around or just taking a walk. But he didn't care. After all, we were just niggers."

He continued, "Somewhere each of us have got to make a stand against this kind of thing.... And I take my stand here."

The boycott broke down, as athletes felt they just couldn't give up the chance at Olympic gold. But Lew Alcindor stayed home, stubborn in his commitment to principle.

Because he stayed behind, we don't remember that Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Lee Evans, and others had a seven-foot-two-inch All-American standing alongside them.

Will Obama utilize the giant, or will he continue to run his campaign like he's playing not to lose?

Dave Zirin is a columnist for and the author of "Welcome to the Terrordome."

Source Citation
Zirin, Dave. "Kareem plays D for Obama." The Progressive June 2008: 14. Academic OneFile. Web. 20 Jan. 2010. .

Gale Document Number:A179347540

ArabicChinese (Simplified)Chinese (Traditional)DeutchEspanolFrenchItalianJapaneseKoreanPortugueseRussian
Personalized MY M&M'S® CandiesUnited States Judo Association - USJA (Web-Page)
(Album / Profile) hhref="">>DicksSportingGoods.comShop the Official Coca-Cola Store!href="">

No comments: