The nature of individual culture within the terms of enslavement stemmed from a desire to forge a basis for self-identity beyond the control and persecution from the white slave masters. Undoubtedly, the generic sentiments of slavery throughout American history found in textbooks and classrooms throughout the country, provides a glimpse into the mindset of Americans on the issue. However, the representations of slaves contrived from these stereotypical images hinder the reality and complexity of their existence as individuals. Slavery was an evolving institution, which experienced vast changes over its numerous generations. African slavery transformed into American slavery and with this shift came new cultural foundations. Accordingly, traditions developed in exchange with the interactions and the progressions of a new cultural and social institution. It was through vital cultural developments of leisure that slaves were able to establish and experience a reprieve through activities such as sports and recreation, despite being bound by the institution’s harsh practices.
From Jackie Robinson to Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe, African American athletes have been at the center of modern culture, their on-the-field heroics admired and stratospheric earnings envied. But for all their money, fame, and achievement, says New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden, black athletes still find themselves on the periphery of true power in the multibillion-dollar industry their talent built.
Provocative and controversial, Rhoden’s $40 Million Slaves weaves a compelling narrative of black athletes in the United States, from the plantation to their beginnings in nineteenth-century boxing rings to the history-making accomplishments of notable figures such as Jesse Owens, Althea Gibson, and Willie Mays. Rhoden reveals that black athletes’ “evolution” has merely been a journey from literal plantations—where sports were introduced as diversions to quell revolutionary stirrings—to today’s figurative ones, in the form of collegiate and professional sports programs. He details the “conveyor belt” that brings kids from inner cities and small towns to big-time programs, where they’re cut off from their roots and exploited by team owners, sports agents, and the media. He also sets his sights on athletes like Michael Jordan, who he says have abdicated their responsibility to the community with an apathy that borders on treason.
The power black athletes have today is as limited as when masters forced their slaves to race and fight. The primary difference is, today’s shackles are often the athletes’ own making.
The furor surrounding comments attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has again cast an unfavorable light on racism in American sport.
Sixty-seven years after Jackie Robinson famously broke baseball’s “color line” when he went to bat for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the specter of racism still looms large over U.S. professional sport—from outspoken billionaire franchise owners to foul-mouthed players and bigoted fans who spew xenophobic nonsense behind the anonymity of Twitter avatars.
“Racism remains a problem throughout our society as a whole, and sports merely reflects that,” said Ray Halbritter, who has been leading a campaign for the Washington Redskins to drop their racially charged name. From Jackie Robinson to Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe, African American athletes have been at the center of modern culture, their on-the-field heroics admired and stratospheric earnings envied. But for all their money, fame, and achievement, says New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden, black athletes still find themselves on the periphery of true power in the multibillion-dollar industry their talent built.
Another species being targeted with these deceptive practices is now being brandished with the new scarlet letter “F”‘ which stands for felons, ex-offenders.
These laws have a disproportionate impact on minorities — 1.4 million black men cannot vote. That is a rate of 13 percent — seven times the national average. A majority of the disenfranchised live in the South: Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia all bar former prisoners from voting. Some of these states adopted disenfranchisement provisions during Reconstruction in order to evade the 15th Amendment’s ban on withholding suffrage from freedmen. (Disenfranchising crimes were carefully selected to disqualify large numbers of blacks.) In Florida and Alabama, the racial effect is greatest; blacks comprise almost 50 percent of the disenfranchised.
Given the disparate targeting and treatment of blacks by the criminal justice system, felony disenfranchisement adds a second level of insult and injury to minority ex-offenders. It harms individuals and also limits group political power. I am launching a campaign to provide my community with a facility to redeem life to empower them with another mindset to exist in this life with contentment and resolve so that they may defeat these stigma’s.