As I sit down to pen this, my first Black History Month work of 2014, I will in good faith, not in bad taste or laziness write a few more syllables, words, sentences and paragraphs’ regurgitating the supposed “benevolence” of Branch Rickey.
“Rickey [the legendary] Major League Baseball (MLB) executive [was] elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967. Mr. Rickey was born on December 20, 1881 and died on December 9, 1965. The time of his birth and death is significant, very significant to the body of communiqué.
Rickey’s claim to fame was that “he [broke] Major League Baseball’s color barrier by signing African American player Jackie Robinson and for drafting the first Afro-Hispanic superstar, Roberto Clemente.
Rickey played for the St. Louis Browns and New York Highlanders from 1905 through 1907. After struggling as a player, Rickey returned to college, where he learned about administration from Philip Bartelme. Returning to MLB in 1913, Rickey embarked on a successful managing and executive career with the St. Louis Browns, the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cardinals elected him to their team Hall of Fame in 2014.” (Wikipedia)
Most of us should be asking the question as to why there was a color barrier in place requiring it to be broken in the first place? Was it Branch Rickey or President Barack Obama that said; “It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode.”
August 28, 1945 was the day Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to a minor league baseball deal but at that time many “mad men” remained at the core of our social and economic system, running our government, our country’s corporations and our sports teams who continued to implement and maintain “indentured servants” practices that continue until this day.
As far as sports ownership and management goes Blacks may have exited the end zone of racial bias in the corporate and sports world but a “touchback” has been declared because they have not been afforded many opportunities to return the “kickoffs of opportunities” into the “red zones” of success.
I have decided to take a break. turn on “Morning Joe” the MSNBC television program semi-dedicated to the Republican Party, right wing “killo-sophy,” oops, I meant philosophy. This is the “super preservative” gun carrying, flag waving, disenfranchising and war mongering faction of our society that incessantly ridicules Black Americans and all that we stand for.
After the previous couple of weeks ridiculing a few Black athletes, the “panel” moves on to discussing the death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
I met Hoffman on September 11, 2002 at the Lennox Lounge in Harlem. I, along with former Pittsburgher, bassist Chris Sullivan, along with Long Island native and long time Harlem resident, jazz/pop vocalist Barbra Sfraga.
We were doing a tribute to the victims of 911. Sfraga and I performed the Donny McClurkin song; “We Fall Down But We Get Up.”
After the set, Hoffman who was hanging out with comedy legend Jackie Mason told me how moved he was. Jackie Mason wrote on a piece of paper that I was an awesome talent. I still have a laminated copy of that autograph.
I am saddened by the death of Mr. Hoffman because such a brilliant talent has now been silenced, forever. Had the suspected drug allegedly ingested by him been legal, he could have left the shadows of iniquity and the drug that secretly pleased him and killed him may have been administered under a supervised conditions, do you remember Michael Jackson?
No one will be calling Mr. Hoffman a ruffian.
However, Seattle Seahawk defensive back Richard Sherman was labeled a “thug” by all of the “conservative” media outlets because he dared to exude an air of confidence after a hard fought victory against the San Francisco 49ers to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII.
Sherman’s performance on the field was legal, it was his braggadocio that wasn’t.
CNN.com had this to say about Mr. Hoffman. “Philip Seymour Hoffman was a rare breed in Hollywood. The actor could disappear into — and transcend — any role He seemed to care more for his craft than celebrity. Hoffman died of an apparent drug overdose at the age of 46. He had the booming voice of a deity but often played schlubs and conflicted characters. He could be heartfelt and giving, as with his male nurse in “Magnolia” or rock critic in “Almost Famous,” or creepily Machiavellian, such as the gamemaster in the latest “Hunger Games” movie.”
My ear is pinned to the wall am I losing my hearing? I am not hearing nor am I reading the word; “thug.” reflecting on his death.
“In 1884 Sigmund Freud treats his depression with cocaine, and reports feeling “exhilaration and lasting euphoria, which is in no way differs from the normal euphoria of the healthy person…You perceive an increase in self-control and possess more vitality and capacity for work…. In other words, you are simply more normal, and it is soon hard to believe that you are under the influence of a drug.” [Quoted in Ernest Jones, *The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, Vol.1, p.82]
Was Freud a hooligan? It was declared legal over 113 years ago that it was okay for Whites to use drugs but it was forbidden for people of color. In 1901 The Senate of the United States of America [adopted] a resolution, introduced by Henry Cabot Lodge,” to forbid the sale by American traders of opium and alcohol “to aboriginal tribes and uncivilized races.” These provisions are later extended to include “uncivilized elements in America itself and in its territories, such as Indians, Alaskans, the inhabitants of Hawaii, railroad workers, and immigrants at ports of entry.” (Lectlaw. com)
In 1901 Branch Rickey was 20 years old. His opinions were already formed. The opinions about Black athletes must be reformatted for anything or anyone to be changed.
Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412.583.6741