That Dr Debbie is Hip Hip Hooraying over this should surprise you about as much as her being afraid to have lunch with me several years ago. “Dr Debbie – The Reigning Diva of UNC Race-baiters”….
Oh… Dr Debbie thinks TGU is all overrated false accusations and quite unfair…. another I’M SHOCKED!
Why am I posting Dr Debbie DDL’s race-baiting bilge here? I am under no obligation to do so. I want you to come here expecting to find “interesting reading material” regardless of it’s POV.
The websites that post Dr Debbie DDL would never post a BobLee commentary. I don’t want you to ever confuse this website with those.
A Courageous Choice: Football Or Freedom
By Deborah Stroman, Ph.D.
Posted November 9, 2015 at 9:40 pm
Considering the recent history of false accusations and media redundancy over the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s academic-athletic cloud, the skies are certainly bright and clear in Chapel Hill today. Coach Larry Fedora’s 8-1 football team is laser-sharp focused as they now have control of their destiny to win the ACC Coastal Championship. However, their athletic brethren at the University of Missouri chose to fight for another championship – one that is not won on the gridiron but rather in the hearts and minds of their community.
America’s core values center around the freedom for individuals to live in peace and harmony in this great nation. Our democracy encourages participation in the political process to ensure representation of and listening to diverse interests. Our policy makers seek to protect the greater good and defend us from our enemies. But what if our enemy is ourselves? It is much easier to arm and defend ourselves from racists who don’t think, dress or act like us. But trying to bring attention to those who sit in our classroom and student union, walk our campus quad, instruct and advise students, formulate policies and procedures, and even negotiate at the state capitol on the behalf of the university system who all the while choose not to better understand and examine the hurt and pain inflicted on minority students is another matter. How does one find the voice to stand up and say “Never Again!”?
The courageous young Black men on the Missouri football team decided to activate their democratic right. Their decision to publicly and collectively be social activists willing to unite and defend their freedom to live in a community without racist behaviors is highly commendable. No resignation of Tim Wolfe, the University of Missouri president, would equal no game play on Saturday. The football players risked the backlash from rabid sports fans who only view them as athletes and not students in tune with campus life; an opportunity to miss out on competition that could possibly assist in their skill level and showcase to NFL professional scouts; and the general loss of athletic privilege that comes with the valuable scholarship. Wolfe stated in his awkward resignation words, “This is not the way change comes about.” Indeed it does, Mr. Wolfe. In matters of power and privilege change is never soft and fuzzy.
This bold commitment by the football players was made all in the effort to align themselves with their justice-minded peers to bring international attention to the invisibility of racism on college campuses. Missouri graduate student, Jonathan Butler, had even begun a hunger strike to foster more dialogue and an end to the racial harassment suffered by students. Football players are trained to defend their turf, analyze complex offensive sets, and zero in on the opponent who can hurt the team the most. In this attempt to weed out the ever-evolving web of racism, there was no better partner to “stand in the gap” than these prominent athletes. Their social and economic power is enormous; and it forced the Missouri administrators to listen intently and to make a decision. The bottom line is that this struggling Southeastern Conference (SEC) team faces BYU in Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium) on November 14 in a game scheduled for viewing on the lucrative SEC Network. Money talks.
So how about the Tar Heel nation? Would today’s UNC football players sacrifice a possible ACC championship to fight for something even greater? Do UNC players have the courage to accept a trophy or the truth? As a 20 year-old with the desire to play on Sundays, would you choose to capture the hearts of your fan base or create the future your children deserve? UNC faced a similar racial incident in the 1990s during the creation of The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History. Four Black football players joined the protest to denounce the lack of support for a free-standing center on campus. The controversy was so intense that a university trustee, John Pope, was quoted as saying, “it seems to me if (black students) are interested in a Black Cultural Center, maybe those students should attend a black university.”
Unlike Wolfe, Chancellor Hardin never had to resign as he changed his position and negotiated with campus leaders and supporters to build the center. Today UNC enjoys and shares this cultural treasure with the world. Similar to the Missouri players who reside in low-income neighborhoods in or near Ferguson who kept their anger suppressed while their family and friends experienced the effects of the documented racist activities of those in positions of authority, UNC had and continues to recruit athletes who hail from communities that are targets of exploitative actions such as a lack access to capital and decent housing. Undoubtedly, the sting of years of blind and cold leadership to improve conditions for their impoverished communities takes its toll. At some point the children will cry out and demand justice.
The Missouri protest is another example of how college athletics can’t ignore the interconnectedness of the struggle of Black athletes and the liberty of Black consciousness. Dr. Harry Edwards, the noted sports sociologist, and Arthur Ashe, the late tennis great and humanitarian, repeatedly asked America to listen to the Black athlete. For America to examine the journey of those athletes who manage to navigate two very distinct worlds in an attempt to be respectful and mindful of the toil of their ancestors all the while striving to grasp a bit of the so-called American dream is a classroom lesson for all that is honorable and impactful.
Rather on many college campuses that participate in NCAA Division I big-time sports, students are “asked” to step away from their people’s past – its struggle and glory. All too often they learn to master the athletic playbook without the in-depth education of the more important erudition of their African history and culture. This strategy is a very dangerous game that can lead to a non-athletic bruising that will never heal. If there is one American lesson that our past has taught us well is that freedom is never free. The world is watching, Mizzou. Fight on.
Dr. Deborah Stroman discussed this column Monday on WCHL with Aaron Keck.