Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ready to Move into My Cave - a meandering rant on race by way of the Olympics

Typically, I am a big fan of the Olympics, particularly the Winter Olympics. I love figure skating and skiing. Well, I was reading an article today that discussed how America is having a so-so Olympic. The article also discusses Shani Davis, an African American who recently won gold for the 1,000m speedskating race, the first medal for an African American during the Winter Olympics. Great feat. Much kudos for him.

Now, this article goes on to discuss how his mother is this maniacal "stage" mother who may be hurting her son's image more than she will ever know. The article also discusses how Davis has become this selfish athlete who wanted to focus on his two individual competitions than to perform during the team competition, a move that would have aided a fellow American teammate in getting rest and perhaps breaking a record for a number of gold medals in one Winter Olympic.

Okay. This is interesting. I smell race popping up somewhere. This particular article, aside from saying he was an African American speedskater, never brings up the race issue. I do a little surfing off the internet because this article DOES mention some bad NBC interview Davis gave recently. I begin wondering about the interview, wondering why this negative picture of Davis is being painted.

The more articles I read about Davis, the more this (this being him, his blackness, his not wanting to participate in the team competition) becomes a race issue; some people cite how NBC pulled affiliates out of Africa, some discuss the issues of slavery and how Davis does not owe anything to America. Religion is brought into it. Many big, lofty, multi-syllabic words are thrown about, I'm sure injuring those who throw them because of the words' weight. Some people insinuate that going to the Olympics to represent America is a "white" thing.

I find myself getting that itch I get ever so often; the itch to pack my shit and head into my cave, the cave where people do not exist.

I know that race is an issue, will always be an issue. I'm sure Davis experienced it being in a white-dominated sport. I'm sure he had to endure some serious things in order to pursue his goals. I'm also sure that Davis is just the latest in one what we always endure: another scapegoat to hang yet another discussion on race on--a discussion that usually doesn't lead to anything because no one mixes action with their words anymore.

There are some issues I had with what I read:

Why is representing your country a race issue? That's just so freaking stupid. I'd want to do both...perform well in my solo events and perform well in my team events, but that's just me. Knowing absolutely nothing about the speedskating team, I can only assume that there IS a team. If Davis performed with the team in the past and it wasn't insane to think he might perform with the team during the Olympics, then I might wander to the WRONG side and shake a finger at Davis. However, if he's always performed in solo events and was asked to perform in the team competition out of the blue, I can't fault him for saying no. He's training his body to perform for particular competitions; breaking out of that regimen could affect his performance.

Is it wrong that Davis wanted to focus on his solo competitions? I don't know. I don't really care, but I do care when I see people having long-winded conversations about this when there are much more pressing issues like how to build better educational systems in various states in America--just off the top of my head.

My second issue is this: is it okay to use as an argument, no one was there to help us and now that we are PEOPLE OF IMPORTANCE, we don't need you, we don't want to have anything to do with you, be gone? One of the articles I read stated Davis' mother as saying she'll take the role of the bad guy in this scenario because during her son's journey to speedskating glory, no one ever wanted to help, but now they want a piece of him because he's somebody--you get not a piece of him because you did not help him get here. If this is truly her opinion, can we call her a bad person? I know in my life there have been people who was no where to be seen when I was down and out and needed help, but since I've begun to make something for myself, they have creep into the light of day, looking for a hand out or looking to be my friend again. I kicked them right to the curb. Now, having said that, I would say that I wouldn't agree with someone who because ignorance was bestowed upon them, they are now ignorant. What does that solve? Nothing.

I think why I'm really ready to move into my cave is I realize that the world will never change--not in the way I'd like it to. We will always find SOMETHING to argue about, something that's so vague, that's so insignificant that our angry words will only be that: angry words. Nothing will change because people don't do, they bitch and complain. They constantly bring it back to the race, they try to be witty by writing how Hedrick (a white speedskater) was preparing for his 'race.' See how witty they are? They used race and it's a double entendre because he had a "race" and he was preparing for his "white" race. Why?

I'm all for bitching and complaining. Hell, I do it and often, but typically, I do it with an agenda in mind to keep me from constantly bitching about the same thing. All this Davis thing did is allow people to vent and bitch about an issue that has divided our country since its inception: race. Will we remember it this time next year? Some may. Most won't. Will anything be done about? Will people rise up and fight for some aspect of this issue that deserves to be changed? Probably not. We don't do those types of things any more.

And I guess that's why I wrote this long-winded, insane post. I'm upset that all we do is TALK now. Race issues ARE important. EXTREMELY important. This young man who fulfilled a life-long dream should not be dragged into it, but we do because so many of us are still afflicted by the race issue and the only thing we are able to do is bitch about it whenever we can find some nugget of race in SOMETHING.

Unfortunately, we don't have Kings, Parks, Evers to fight the good fight. We just have the wind that blows out arguments, and eventually, just like the weather, wind dies down.

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