The No Look Pass- Why the Trump Administration Continues to Keep America on it’s Heels.

magic-johnson-no-look-pass
Earvin “Magic” Johnson confuses a pair of Atlanta Hawk defenders with one of his signature no look passes.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson was one of the most dynamic, durable and talented players in NBA history. His natural gifts gave him a distinct advantage over his opponents. At 6’9” 230lbs, he was built like a power forward, but had the grace, ball handling skills and on the court leadership of a point guard. And though his size at his was not customary for a point guard, he became the best point guard to ever wear Los Angeles Lakers jersey. Point guards are typically the smallest players on the court. Their job is to control the tempo of the game by making good decisions with the basketball and allowing the players around them to score, by embodying a pass first, shoot second mentality. But Magic, because of his size, intelligence and smarts, could play every position on the court. His combination of size and speed made him a complete package, a once in a generation caliber of player.

And though Magic had an arsenal of skills, he is best most known for his passing. Magic had an uncanny ability to place the ball in the hand of his teammates from under the most improbable scenarios; like magic. He was so good at dishing the ball around that he didn’t even have to look in the direction of his passes. Hence, “no look pass.” It’s like he had eyes in the back of his head and three arms. A player could be on the opposite side of the court, totally out of position to receive the ball, yet Magic could penetrate the defending team with a laser pass that was only attended for his player’s hands. Squared up with a defender in his face, closing in on him… and POOF, the ball was out of his hands and being laid up by someone else, for two points. And when teams tried to anticipate his passes, he would keep the ball and score himself.

For his entire career he deceived us into thinking he was going left, when in actuality, his true intention was to go right. We thought that he would surely take the open shot, but he actually passed it off to someone whom you forgot was on the court…because you had been so engulfed in watching him. How did he do it? How did he see it? It was unexplainable. But he did it time and time again. You could never predict how the play would end, once the basketball touched Magic’s hands.

As I watch news and read reports about the state of politics in the United States. I feel like I am watching Magic Johnson play again. We are all being told to focus on emanate threat of Islamic terrorists. For a slither of time, some of us would have been duped into thinking that the Trump administration had a legitimate concern about Muslim extremists finding their way into the United States. Even if the World Trade attacks took place over 15 years ago and we had virtually no “terrorist” attacks on American soil since.[i] As a matter of fact, more than 90% of all “terrorist” attacks perpetrated by Muslims are inflicted on other Muslims… in Muslim countries. With the exception of Antarctica, when you look at the facts, the United States might be the safest place on the planet when it comes to “so called” terrorist attacks. Europe, Asia and Africa catch far more hell than we could every dream of.

So while a travel ban was being placed on Muslims in the name of protecting America from terrorists, another play was being drawn up. Social media has been flooded with posts about ICE (Immigration Law Enforcement) [1]going into neighborhoods from Los Angeles, to New York City, to Miami to setup “check points.” Folks are being stopped, searched, detained and deported for being undocumented. The government is supposedly, only going after those with “criminal charges.” Whether the reports of checkpoints[ii] are true or false, Trumps rhetoric towards immigrants has fostered a growing climate of fear and mistrust of immigrants.

A few weeks ago, the Trump administration dribbled the ball down the right side of the court, telling us that Muslims were a threat because of their inherent ties to “terrorism.” But this week they through the ball to the opposite side of the court to our wide open ICE Agents who are allegedly boarding public transportation in places like Flatbush Brooklyn with a huge West Indian population and Flushing Queens, which is considered to be the most diverse neighborhood in the world, with families from virtually every country in Latin America and Asia. It seems that it’s not just about “criminals.”

The African American community already knows all too well about having their neighborhoods heavily policed. Black men very familiar with being stopped and frisked in the name of “proactive policing.” It seems like it will always be a reason to accuse people of color of being suspicious or a threat to America. It seems like all those years of stopping and frisking black people paid off after all. Those same protocols are now being practiced on the Latino and Muslim communities in America.

So what is this all about? Where is the Trump administration really going with their agenda? Unlike Magic, his “no-look” passes and skillful ball handling made those around him better. It made the team better. He led the Lakers to five NBA Championships.[iii] Also, in the game of basketball there are two teams on the court. The objective is to defeat your opponent. However, America is not a basketball court, it is a country. How is all this rhetoric and division making all Americans better? We are supposed to be unified. We should be trying our best include everyone, in our so-called democracy, polarizing and excluding certain groups. “United we stand. Divided we fall.” America is supposed to be a land of opportunity and refuge for those who cannot find refuge anywhere else. A land built on the backs of the same people who are now being systematically pushed away.

It is far too easy to place the blame of our shortcomings as a country on immigrants and people of color. It is far too easy to complain and pull on the emotions of the American people rather than make the necessary changes and sacrifices. America is not perfect, however, it is still one of the safest places in the world. It is still the land of opportunity. We cannot fall for the bait and allure of prejudice, fear and xenophobia. While it may look like hour president is going to work, to solve the problems of our nation, we need to look a little deeper. What is his real agenda? Because I know that expelling millions of immigrants and banning the entry of hundreds of thousands more, will not make America “great again.” But it will continue keep us confused, divided and distracted.

Sources

[1] ICE- Immigration Customs Enforcement

[i] ACLU FACTSHEET ON CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION’S 100-MILE ZONE https://www.aclu.org/other/aclu-factsheet-customs-and-border-protections-100-mile-zone?redirect=immigrants-rights/aclu-fact-sheet-customs-and-border-protections-100-mile-zone

[ii] False Stories About ICE Sweeps & Checkpoints Spark Fear In New York’s Immigrant Communities

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2017/02/23/bogus-ice-reports/

[iii] NBA Encyclopedia –Earvin Johnson, Jr.

http://www.nba.com/history/players/johnsonm_stats.html

 

God Shed His Grace?

That ominous feeling we all had when Trump began to gain momentum in the primaries, has gone from just a feeling, to a palpable reality. The “polls” the “experts” will try to act as if they were shocked by the results,  but we know better.  We heard Trayvon plead for his life… We saw Mike Brown’s lifeless body left for hours in the August heat… We witnessed Eric Garner’s last breath… We watched our sister Sandra Bland get tossed like a rag doll. But We never saw justice.

But things have changed right?  We had a black president; for two terms at that.True.  But race relations in America are as bad as they have been since Dr. King’s assassination.  It seems like Obama was able to do some great things for America, but not for Us. He bailed-out Wall Street, brought our troops home, shook Castro’s hand, lower the unemployment rate and killed Bin Laden. Okay, cool. But how has that changed anything for Us? We still exist under the thumb of racism and prejudice in this country.

Something that continued to annoy me during the election, was the birth of a new demographic in America,  known as “non college educated white men.” They are the ones to blame for the sophisticated,  systematic,  school to prison pipeline and ambushing the ballots in Trumps favor? Give me a break. The very educated, wealthy and powerful have always been responsible for the outcome of elections in this country. Poor white folks never owned slaves, they never had any real power. Don’t blame them for Trump’s ascent to the presidency.

There are some very wealthy,  sophisticated and well educated folks  who wanted Trump to win. They may pretend to not like his approach or rhetoric,  but fundamentally,  their elbows are locked with his. And secretly they voted for him. The Klan used to wear white sheets to hide their identity. They have traded their sheets for the ballot box. Old trick new method… that’s all.

I’ve played sports my entire life,  but never shared a locker room with Donald Trump. I’ve had dinner at many tables,  but not with Donald Trump. There’s obviously a deeper dialogue happening among white America. These are conversations that I will never be a part of. I cannot control that reality. I and millions of others in this country can only wait by the proverbial door, in hopes of hearing good news.

Election night had millions of us feeling like one of our loved ones were in critical condition. As time went on, the updates became less promising… Florida…brain dead,  Michigan and Wisconsin…kidney failure…North Carolina…liver failure…Pennsylvania….lungs collapse. .. Ohio… the heart stopped beating… flat line. “Sorry,” the media said, “She didn’t make it.” A hush of silence rushed across the country. Some were in utter disbelief. While others were satisfied, but did not want to reveal their true beliefs.

More than ever, America exists in two realities… One man’s progress, is at the expense of another man’s plight. This is Donald Trump’s America. This is the Make America Great Again that he speaks of. This is democracy?  A bitter pill it is. This is what makes America great huh?

ferguson
Duane Merrells walks with an upside down flag in a protest Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. Brown’s shooting has sparked more than a week of protests, riots and looting in the St. Louis suburb. Credit: AP Photo/Charlie Riede

“America, America, God shed hid grace on thee,
And crown thy good, with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea”

As a little black boy raised in America, I had to learn the lyrics of America the Beautiful for our school’s end of the year musical performance. I was the only black boy in my kindergarten class and I was chosen to sing the solo. Years later I can only laugh at the irony. I did not know any better. The words are sketched in my mind for ever. I just sang it, because I loved the melody and I loved to sing. And now look at how our country has voted….God’s grace might be shedding on thee, but it damn sure ain’t shedding on me.