Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Rebuttal to Jason Reid's Article about John Wall

Washington Wizards should think about John Wall’s ink before signing him to a max deal - The Washington Post

The above link is a post written by Jason Reid of the Washington Post. Before I begin, I want to make it clear that the content, the visibility, and the meaning of John Walls tattoos are not at all debated by Jason Reid, as he clearly stated in response to someone on Twitter. Nevermind that Jason Reid does talk about the location of said tattoos.

Jason Reid argues that John Wall getting tattoos after publicly speaking about not having tattoos in order to protect "his image for marketing reasons." Specifically, Reid had this to say:
Posing shirtless recently for an Instagram photo, Wall revealed several tattoos. Wall’s interest in body art is surprising, considering he previously said he did not have tattoos because of concerns over his image for marketing reasons. Many NBA players do have tattoos, and Wall isn’t breaking new ground in sharing his ink with fans through social media.
Reid is suggesting that because Wall's opinion seems to have changed, that he is an unsure decision maker both on and off of the court. What Reid fails to realize, is that he is reading into something that just is not there. Reid says it himself in his own summary--which I have to assume is credible--of Wall's comments regarding tattoos before. "[H]e did not have tattoos because of concerns over his image for marketing reasons." Nowhere in that summary does it suggest Wall was anti-tattoos or that he did not want them. All that can be taken from that suggestion is that Wall was worried that if he did get tattoos, that he may be perceived differently by the marketing base and therefore may not be able to sign on for endorsements in order to help accrue a strong, financial support outside of his basketball contract.

And Wall had every reason to feel that way about getting tattoos. There is a strong prejudice against tattoos in the United States and around the world, for that matter. I know all too well of this extreme two-sided debate from the comments of a post right here on Don't Laugh, People. There are cases where companies and corporations stress their intentions to remain clear of displaying body modifications in order to attract peoples of all walks of life. We are, after all, still in the midst of body modification--tattoos specifically--being representative of gang affiliation. People wear clothes to conceal their body art in professional settings. Tattoos have been proven to be a distraction if on the face of a person, therefore not promoting a productive working environment or relationship between the business and customers/partners/potential partners.

But Wall's "change of attitude" is not a "flip-flopping" of belief, value, or attitudes. Jason Reid goes on to cite examples of players in the league who are highly marketable and have tattoos displayed. The players Jason Reid refers to are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Derrick Rose.
Tattoos didn’t stop Miami’s LeBron James from becoming the league’s top corporate pitchman. Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant has intricate body art and makes millions in endorsements. Chicago’s Derrick Rose is “all tatted up,” as the kids say these days, and he rakes in big bucks from his corporate partners. What’s the difference between those guys and Wall? Well, everything. 
James, Durant and Rose, in that order, are considered the best players in the game. In his first three seasons, Wall didn’t appear in an all-star game, didn’t participate in the playoffs or lead the Wizards to so much as a .500 record. James and Rose never tried to sell mass-appeal images to the public. They just let their play do the talking.
Reid argues that these players are among the best in the league, therefore obviously the most marketable. However, underlying in Reid's argument, is the insinuation that these players are allowed to market their tattoos because of how good they have proven to be. Reid may not say it explicitly, and he may even try to refute it, but of the responses I have read to his article so far, that is the unanimous interpretation of that segment.

I should not have to explain why there is a problem with that logic, but for the sake of being fair and constructive, I will explain. LeBron James had tattoos visible before he entered the NBA. Likewise, Derrick Rose had ink on his arms for the world to see before he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls. In fact, both of those guys had question marks about their talents at such a young age but were granted endorsements early on. Yes, we had an idea that LeBron was going to be one of the most talented players in the world when he was drafted, but for certain, nobody could be sure. John Wall had more college experience than LeBron James did when he entered the league, so for all anyone is concerned, Wall was a little more prepared out of the gates than LeBron James was, with a high ceiling and a lot of raw, natural talent. So why is Wall considered so unproven by Jason Reid but LeBron's early years held in such high regard?

Reid is ignoring--especially by citing examples of the best players in the league--that maybe Wall has always wanted to get tattoos, but did not think it was lucrative. Upon seeing the best in the NBA with tattoos and big endorsement deals, Wall found examples at the opposite end of the spectrum of what he thought was acceptable practice in acquiring endorsement deals and presenting himself as a leader to a basketball team. In fact, Wall's realization is actually refreshing, because he discovered a side that he was not sure of and he embraced that side, showing he is capable of change and adaptation, two traits which ultimately breed contenders and champions in any profession, especially sports.

Reid also failed to make a point in the following passage:
Like Durant, Wall has strategically put tattoos on parts of his body that might not be visible when he’s in uniform. But if he wanted to keep the ink to himself, why the photos on Instagram?
Firstly, where does Jason Reid get this information that John Wall wanted to keep the ink to himself? Based on the false idea that he was against tattoos? Furthermore, comparing keeping tattoos private to Durant? Kevin Durant has posted his tattoos numerous times on his Instagram, and embraces his ink with pride.

Jason Reid's skewed and flawed logic falls drastically short of the desired mark, and clearly should have consulted with editors before posting his ridiculous opinion piece that the Washington Post should be ashamed to have published under their name.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Responding to Leonard Pitts, Jr.'s Argument Against "Redskins"

I was reading this article, Leonard Pitts Jr.: No justifying ‘Redskins’ as mascot | Wichita Eagle, and was honestly intrigued by the language Mr. Pitts used in his opposition to "Redskins."

Mr. Pitts uses some sorely developed points, many of which I have already offered rebuttal for when presented with them from other parties. But for the sake of honest counter-argument, here we go.

Does that seem logical? If so, then perhaps you can understand my impatience with people who insist on defending the Washington, D.C., football team whose nickname is a racial slur.
The latest is NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. He recently responded to a letter from members of the House Congressional Native American Caucus questioning the appropriateness of the name “Redskins.” That name, wrote Goodell, “is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.” The team took the name in 1933, he noted, to honor then-coach William “Lone Star” Dietz, who was reputedly (it is a matter of historical dispute) an American Indian.
“Neither in intent nor use was the name ever meant to denigrate Native Americans or offend any group,” he wrote. In other words, we have changed the meaning. It no longer means what it has always meant.
First of all, the nickname is not a racial slur, and the arguments Mr. Pitts eventually goes on to make about the use of the word as a racial slur are unfounded and unsupported in any fashion.

Secondly, Mr. Pitts incorrectly paraphrases Mr. Goodell and implies that Goodell was saying "we have changed the meaning." Nowhere in Goodell's letter or the statement presented does Goodell say "we have changed the meaning." In fact, Goodell says it has "[n]ever meant to denigrate Native Americans."

She has found empirical proof that those names and imagery lead to lowered self-esteem and sense of community worth among American Indian kids. They also damage aspirations and heighten anxiety and depression.
In other words, seeing their people reduced to mascots is toxic to Indian children. And if the names and images in general are damaging, how much more harmful is “Redskins”?
So what Mr. Pitts is suggesting is that Stephanie Fryberg has evidence that the term "Redskins" is offensive to "American Indian kids." I disagree, empirically, with this notion, as there are studies upon studies done by major research groups who have found many Native Americans look at the name with endearment and pride. But for the sake of the argument, we can--you know--ignore those.

Mr. Pitts says "if the names and images in general are damaging" that "Redskins" must be "more harmful." Well, if I'm not mistaken, "Redskins" is one of the mascots, and thus, would have been involved in the same study. This study, I'm assuming, focused on the multitude of nicknames and mascots linked with Native Americans, so did not take into account each individual name's effect on the "American Indian kids." If this is the case, the entire study is skewed and the data is unreliable in argument for any one nickname, "Redskins" included.

But as we look deeper at this segment from Mr. Pitts' article, we see that Mr. Pitts uses the phrase "American Indian." If Mr. Pitts was half the journalist he wished to be, he would have done his research and found that "Indian" is one of the words included in Stephanie Fryberg's "empirical proof." The term "American Indian" is every bit as offensive as Mr. Pitts believes "Redskins" to be. "American Indian" denotes that the people's heritage traces back to the country India. This is proven inaccurate, and has been a topic of debate for some time now. In fact, the term "Indian" was applied to Natives by the European settlers who saw the Natives as people who looked like they came from the country "India" and visually--and incorrectly--identified them as Indians. What Mr. Pitts fails to realize is that he has insulted an entire group, while trying to defend said group. This offensive language and thought-process from Mr. Pitts is enough to discredit his entire argument, but for the sake of having some fun here, I will continue.

That name, after all, was never neutral, but was, rather, a hateful epithet hurled by people who were stealing from and committing genocide against those they saw as savage and subhuman.
Mr. Pitts throws out unfounded arguments here. It is the same nonsensical "evidence" distributed in case after case against the Washington Redskins. There is no evidence, that anyone ever "hurled" this "hateful epithet" while "stealing from and committing genocide" against Native Americans.

While I have your attention on the subject, there is never, and has never been evidence provided by anyone that "Redskins" was ever used in a hurtful, hateful, or racist fashion. Argument after argument has been used, and stricken, because of lack of evidence. The only thing anyone ever suggests is to go to a reservation and call those people a "Redskin" to their face if you want proof that it offends them. Do you realize you could offend a homosexual male by calling him "gay" with an incentive or a tone? Using any term as a name is never respectful, but to use the term simply as an identifier, as the Washington Redskins do, is not offensive:

...Mr. Pitts, however, is. HAIL TO THE REDSKINS!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Change the World

Before I begin, I know there will be a lot of people who read this post and feel like they just wasted their time. I know there will be others who read it and maybe it stirs some emotion, but they then will ultimately revert. But some, maybe one or two, hopefully as many of you who do read this, will take up the challenge to change.

For as long as I can remember interacting with @AllanGraye, we have talked about changing this planet. Of course, our focus is to start small with a community online, or at home in our immediate location, or with family and friends, and eventually on a county-wide to state-wide to nation-wide level. Ultimately, we want to change the globe as a whole.

Freedom is the goal. Apathy is the enemy.

And to be free is to be free of coercion. Is this coercion I speak of an illusion? In a sense, yes - there is no gun to our heads forcing us to act in a certain way. But we are certainly conditioned to behave a certain way by unwritten social norms, laws, schooling and instilled familial or cultural values. To be freed of the coercion those social constructs impose, we must arm ourselves and our progeny with the tools of logical reasoning and critical thinking. We must mold beings capable of sound reasoning, beings capable of rationalizing when it is sensible to build upon accepted norms, or think beyond them. When freed of internalized social coercion, we can begin to grow toward freeing ourselves of government. Our goal, then, is to establish a truly free society where humanity exists as it should, as student of divine Nature, God, as master of Self, Love, and defender of life, Wholeness. Thus, our work is not to eradicate the cultures and customs of the world, but expand our knowledge of them and refine our own. Our work is not to destroy the law, but to renovate it in such a way that the behavior it is meant to encourage becomes unspoken custom. Our work is not to eliminate education, but to retool the system by which it is administered, so that people are more capable of understanding the supreme value of Self within the context of the absolute necessity of interdependence. We can change, and through our evolution will come the growth of the world.

The problem with telling people to change things is their unwillingness to change. We as humans are so content with what we know that we are terrified to explore uncharted territory. But change is not a bad thing, especially when the goodness of humanity is the goal.

In fact, change must be recognized in that fashion, as not evil, for it is in contentment that the greatest villain of our times lies: Apathy. That sense within us that there is no need to change, no need to act, no need to do, no need to care. It is from that emptiness that we allow social constructs to warp our perceptions to the point where we come to perceive any innocuous and negligible difference between us as a foul and detestable deviance. In truth, there are no significant differences between you and I, save the few nuances in thought that make you, you, and me, me. Be you man or woman, "black" or "white", "dark skinned" or "light skinned", "gay" or "straight", Christian or Muslim, it still stands that at our cores, we all hunger, thirst, lust, crave safety of being and desire for companionship, camaraderie and community. And at present, we do not respect nor care about those needs in the people beyond and even in our immediate lives - and this must change. And it can.

Look at Gay Rights. Look at Women's Rights. Look at Civil Rights. Look at the American Revolution. Revolution... ahh. There's a term that carries such a negative stigma that it has almost become a pejorative. But revolutions are good. Revolutions are necessary. Revolutions are inevitable--or so I used to think.

It turns out, people are so terrified of the word "revolution" and the change that comes of it that we cannot actually revolt. People automatically assume a revolution is a violent upheaval or a deadly overthrow. The fact of the matter is, we can revolt peacefully. Yes, actions are louder than words, but the pen is mightier than the sword. Basically, if you can write a speech in the midst of conflict and deliver it with the sort of passion that both demands and commands respect, you can change the world.

...change the world?


...Change the world.

Having read to this point, you may still disregard these words, thinking this post to be yet another list of complaints by typical whiners - men who perceive disunity, recognize wrongs, but do nothing but talk. But the difference here is significant: these are not grievances. These are the enraged snarls of caged warriors, distraught over the suffering in their world and hellbent on change. This is no complaint, this is a warning - we, by any means necessary, will stand against the evils that endanger, harm and destroy our fellow man and our world. That may call violent imagery to mind, but no. What we speak of is acting in concert to free ourselves, meaning all men, women and children, from our self-imposed shackles. What we mean here is speaking with conviction to instill faith in one another. The world is ripe for change... And it's waiting on you.

Is it in you to follow an idea so vast and so broad that it will synchronously fall upon the people in the light of the sun and in the darkness of the shadow that same sun casts? Do what you know is right and change the world.