Thursday, April 21, 2011

Jackie Robinson Day

April  15th 2011
On April 15th, Major League Baseball honored the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson. Every Major League Baseball Player wore number 42 in his honor. Many well produced documentaries were heard and seen throughout the country, all doing justice to a great man. I’m not a professional writer and I’m certainly not an authority on Mr. Robinson’s life. I may not be able to fully explain what Jackie Robinson must have felt or experienced or even what his accomplishments mean to me. However, I do have an understanding. An understanding validated from my own experiences of segregation, back entrances to doctors, restaurants even refused services and housing. As some of us have shared in a fraction of what Jackie endured, we now enjoy the fruits of his labor.
During this celebration, we acknowledge and worship the significance of this event in baseball history that changed the face of sports and influenced the attitudes of change in America. The signing of Jackie Robinson, an African American, to contract to play professional baseball in the Major League was a surprisingly bold move. This was significant because Jackie would be the first African American to play in a league that was reserved for white players at that point in history. The signing of Jackie represented the beginning of an end to an era that tolerated injustice, social and cultural bigotry. He also represented the beginning of a new era where diversity and equality is not a gift, compromise or sacrifice but a right given to all men embedded in the foundation of this country. Although the signing of Jackie did not mean the end of what was wrong with baseball or society, it did represent the willingness of people to acknowledge a great injustice and a desire for change.
Acknowledging that playing in the Major Leagues is a great honor, we celebrate and salute Mr. Robinson for his sacrifice, patients, wisdom, courage and strength. It was his bold and courageous efforts that enabled people of color to participate in the great American pastime, baseball. Let’s not be misguided in thinking that the signing of Jackie Robinson was solely to give African Americans an equal opportunity to play in the Major Leagues. They were other economic, political and social benefits that motivated such a bold move which was nothing more than an experiment at the time, an experiment requiring a special person such as Jackie Robinson to be successful, to accomplish the vision. This experiment proved to be more than showing the ability of a Black man to compete in a hustle environment. It would change the face of sports and lead to the restructuring of a protected culture.
The signing of Jackie Robinson revealed that opportunity brings change and change is not always welcomed but necessary. Change brings suffering, compromise and tolerance. America is the land of opportunity when opportunity is given.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Living up to Expectations

  While preparing this message, I could not help thinking of my dad and how perfect I thought he was. He was loving, considerate, funny, hardworking, honest, smart, faithful and a good athlete. I often thought to myself that if I could somehow manage to be half the person he was, I would have done well to honor him. I wanted so much to be like dad and there is no doubt in my mind that he wanted his children to take on some of his characteristics, to be more like him. He was smart and realistic enough to know that no two people, but in our case, no 12 people, can or will be the same. However, because of a little thing called genetics, some traits are inherited and others would have to be learned. The truth of the matter is that most parents enjoy the thought of seeing themselves in their children.
    Most responsible parents, when they decide to have children, get together and plan. They begin to imagine what the child will look like, what they will do and teach them.
All of us who have children have images of what we would like for them: the kind of person, career, etc. We want our children to be more like us because we feel we have experienced enough to give them a leg up on life. We will give them every opportunity to fulfill the image that we have of them as children and adults.
    Just think how proud you will feel when you hear someone say that he or she is just like his or her dad or mom. They walk like him, talk like him, look like him, treat people like him, and act like him.
    In other words, you would be honored for children to say that they want to be like their parents. From the time of birth, we begin to dedicate ourselves to preparing our children to be what we imagine them to be. We are willing to give them every chance in the world to live up to our image of them. When they fall we are there to pick they up, when they fail we are there to help them regroup. When they disobey, we are there to give them another chance. Parenting is not easy but it is a task that we have been blessed with and gladly accept. It is our responsibility to nurture and guide our children so they may eventually become the persons we expect them to be. This is when the true joy of parenthood is felt and achieved.