Sean Avery: What A Chump!

Sean Avery, What A Chump

By N Oji Mzilikazi

September 30, 2011

New York Rangers forward Sean Avery is a notorious instigator both on and off the ice. His inappropriate and intemperate behaviour, actions, statements and infractions are well documented.

To get under the skin of Calgary defenceman Dion Phaneuf who was dating ex-girlfriend and actress Elisha Cuthbert, Avery gathered a group of reporters prior to a Dallas Stars vs. Calgary Flames December 2008 match, and lamented about NHL guys falling in love with his “sloppy seconds.”

In March 2008, Avery’s name and private cell phone number was found on Manhattan madam Kristin Davis client list. He was pegged as a $500 john of her Maison de L’Amour brothel.

It’s rather ironic, given that Avery isn’t gay (unless on the down-low), hockey is a contact sport rife with trash talking, and where even a “good hit” can be career-threatening, a ladies’ man like Avery would complain that Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds called him a “f—ing faggot.”

The alleged insult occurred during a verbal dust-up between the two on September 26, during the Flyers New York Rangers pre-season tilt at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center. Simmonds denied using the slur.

While I am in total agreement that homophobia ought not to be aided or abetted, and homophobic slurs can no longer pass for acceptable on-field or on-ice behaviour or be tolerated, Simmonds alleged usage was not denigration of Avery or vilification of gays. It was as Avery knew, to get a rise out of him.

Avery has had great success in being a pest; in getting a rise out of others. He could’ve “taken the verbal hit like a man” and shrug it off. When questioned by the press, go into the “I didn’t hear clearly what he said” mode. Then, later on, privately reprimand Simmonds.

Explain to him that even without malicious intent such an attack is unacceptable, and outline the reasons. For good measure, release a statement condemning the continued use of homophobic slurs in the sporting arena.  It would’ve put all players in the National Hockey League (NHL) on notice.

Such would’ve made the alleged incident a teachable moment, and show that there is tact to Avery. Seems to me, his accidental thrust into gay rights advocacy after endorsing gay marriage this past May, went to his head.

In my book, his ratting Simmonds out further strengthens my belief that he is a first-class chump.

This is the same guy who during his days with Detroit Red Wings (1999 – 2003), called Edmonton Oilers winger and enforcer Georges Laraque a “f—ing slug,” while mic’d up for television cameras. (The clip is available online.) And who, years later, while playing for the Los Angeles Kings allegedly called Laraque “a monkey.”

Since simian invectives towards Blacks originated from racism, are emoted from the same, and are meant to personally disparage, Laraque make an official complaint. Unfortunately there were no witnesses to substantiate Laraque’s claim.

Avery was quoted by Los Angeles Times writer Chris Foster saying Laraque “fabricated the whole thing.”

In view of the fact that Laraque was a feared on-ice pugilist, it is inconceivable he’d lie about a racially offensive remark, knowing he could always encounter Avery on the boards or on open ice.

Although no official was willing to go on record saying they believed Laraque, Rangers coach John Tortorella was quoted saying though he did not hear what Simmonds said, he was “sure Sean Avery is not lying about it.”

I strongly suspect Avery’s decision was all about taking the shine off Simmonds.

Four days earlier, Simmonds was a victim of racism. Simmonds scored in the last minute of regulation play to send the exhibition game between the Flyers and Detroit Red Wings at John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario, into overtime. Then, when he was about to take a shootout, someone threw a banana on the ice.

The racist comparison and association of people of African descent to apes, gorillas and monkeys is responsible for the use of bananas as a racial insult.

While the Simmonds incident is the second recorded in the NHL, soccer has had a long history of white fans calling Black players monkeys, throwing bananas at them or on the pitch, and even unfurling banners showing a banana.

Rather than made a federal case out of it and tarnish the brand, Simmonds comments were terse. He said it was unfortunate. His focus was on playing hockey.

His willingness to move on positioned him as “one of the good guys.”

Avery’s revelation torpedoed that. The same people who applauded Simmonds for his stance over the banana asked for his head, especially after no punishment was meted out. Thanks to Avery, Wayne Simmonds had morphed into just another homophobic Black male.

Demonization of Islam, Palestinian Statehood

Demonization of Islam, Palestinian Statehood

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 20)

September 29, 2011

In typical right-wing media propaganda style, the Montreal Gazette of August 10, 2011, carried the story, “Islamic extremists seek to use U.K. riots as distraction for terror attack.”

Commonsense dictates a better and more efficient tactic would be for those “extremists” to use the riots to plunge England into a race war.

Given that adherents to Islam exist in the wide spectrum of ethnicity; radical Muslims who are Black attacking whites, especially in known bigoted and racist enclaves, and Muslims who are whites attacking Blacks would be more devastating to the country than launching a terror attack during a riot.

The ensuing mayhem will most certainly fulfill Enoch Powell 1968 apocalyptic vision of “rivers of blood.” Furthermore, none would have reason to point fingers at the Muslim community should something like that occur.

The fear-mongering article is a common tact. Regardless as to whatever dramatic events are unfolding in any part of the world, and even in the face of negatives affecting the economy, the trust of pro-Zionist agents is to keep the spotlight on “Islamic terrorism” – the bogeyman of all bogeymen thereby ensuring undying support to Israel.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, stated that “Islamicism” is the biggest threat to Canada. Anti-terrorism clauses jettisoned in 2007 would be back on the books.

Harper has repeatedly shown his default position is Israel can do no wrong. Thus the state and Israeli interests benefit from 100 per cent Canadian government support.

Though every nation has a right to determine its own destiny, when it comes to Palestine that ideology is positioned as inapplicable.

In 2006 the Palestinian electorate elected a Hamas-led government. Canada along with other western donor nations decided to withhold their funds. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter told Canadians in a December 2006 CBC exclusive interview, to punish the Palestinian people because they voted for their candidates of choice” is criminal.

On August 16, 2007, U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns signed a deal providing Israel with $30bn of military aid over the next 10 years. Burns called the aid package an investment in peace. Interestingly, when Ottawa decided to restore $8m in aid to the Palestinian government in July 2007, a great many objected.

In an act of spinelessness, thoughts towards seeking another term, and fear of further political erosion by American Jews, Obama who supported and praised uprisings in the Arab world, threatened a US veto should Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas make a bid for Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.

Last week at the opening of the UN general assembly in New York, Obama said that negotiations between Israel and Palestinians, and not Security Council resolutions were the way to go. Must Palestine ask Israel for statehood?

Harper has already detailed that Canada will oppose the upcoming bid for Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.

I have no bone in the fight between Israel and Palestine, or the larger Arab/Muslim world. Both Jews and Arabs have exploited, oppressed, and discriminated against me and mines; Africa/Africans/Blacks, and continue to do so, even when we belong to their religion.

Still, right is right. Palestinians deserve statehood; just as no person or nation should ever voice denial of Israel’s right to exist, much more execute acts to destroy her.

Islam and Judaism both preach one God and one faith, but if you are Black, it seems only the devil has your back.

In a June 1996 story carried in the Gazette, Israel’s Central Blood Bank disclosed that for years it was accepting blood from their Ethiopian Jews, but unbeknown to them were throwing it all away.

In response to a series of demonstrations in December 2007 by Ethiopian Jews against racism, discrimination at city schools and kindergartens, Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated, “Ethiopian Jews’ feeling that they have been wronged is not detached from reality, a reality that we must change.”

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was blunt – “There is an entire phenomenon of pure racism in the hiring of Ethiopian immigrants in the job market and the renting of homes to them.” (Haaretz, 9/12/07)

Since Blacks Jews are themselves victims of Jewish racism, when it comes to people of African descent, Zionism and racism are blood brothers.

Black Africans and Muslim Africans in Libya are presently being murdered with impunity – deaths are in the hundreds. The uprising against Muammar Gaddafi has brought centuries-old Arab anti-Black racism to the fore.

Arabs raided, and waged wars in Africa for slaves as a commodity long before the birth of Islam. The Arabic/Moslem East African Slave Trade existed centuries before Europe’s Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

Though Arabs/Moslems enjoyed the African females they enslaved at will; enslaved African males were castrated. Thus the miniscule “Black Arab” population in Islamic lands, given the millions of Africans they carted away.

The United Nations resolution 418 of 4 November 1977 imposed a mandatory arms embargo against the evil and wicked Apartheid regime of South Africa. No nation was to supply products, technologies and services that could be used for its military and nuclear industry.

No doubt spurred by diamonds, Israel saw South Africa as kindred spirit – a white minority surrounded by Blacks, just as she was surrounded by Arabs and a Persian state.  Their experience with Nazism be damned- Israel openly funnelled arms and technology to the state.

In collaborating with South Africa, Israel supported state sponsored and state sanctioned terrorism against Black South Africans. Declassified documents published in May 2010 revealed that Israel even offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime.

Interestingly, Israel’s army of defenders will attack anyone, pen missives to editors and bombard online forums to get at any who dare associate or equate the practices and policies of its government in respect to Palestine with Apartheid.

Just earlier this year, Israeli interests sought to have funding of Toronto’s Pride Festival by the city revoked, over the participation of the activist group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA). They also wanted the term “Israeli apartheid” condemned as hate speech, so subject to prosecutions under the Criminal Code.

In March 2006, the Canadian Jewish Congress succeeding in getting “Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak” by Canadian author Deborah Ellis pulled by some of Ontario school boards and school libraries.

Though they claimed it was too sophisticated for children in Grades 4-6, it was about the protection of image. They didn’t want Canadian children reading those stories for fear they might be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, and for references to Israeli brutality by some of its subjects.

After all, a nation and people that manipulate victimization and made a business out of it must “show” outrage if spoken about as an oppressor or engaging in Apartheid.

Peaceful protest interrupting speech on university campuses has been going on for decades. On September 23, a jury in Orange County, California found 10 Muslim students guilty of conspiring and then disrupting a February 2010 speech at UC Irvine by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States.

The bringing of such a silly lawsuit before the courts was to serve as a lesson to critics of Israel. “We will use to law to tie you up -make you spend money over your words.”

The unexpected verdict was more than a blow to a guaranteed civil right- the freedom of free speech. It points to the extent some will go to appease Israeli interests, as well as affirm that some are more equal than others.

That being said, for all the evils ascribe to Gaddafi, and the gloating by Harper of the amount of bombs Canada dropped to destabilise Libya, my Africaness thanks him for the military and financial support he gave to liberation movements across Black Africa, and the financial/educational assistance to some folks in the Caribbean.

Rioting In Black and White

Rioting In Black and White

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 19)

September 15, 2011

The recent riots in Britain, spurred by the police killing of Mark Duggan who was innocent of any wrongdoing at the time and their lie about an exchange of gunfire got me thinking, isn’t it about time Blacks start to imitate whites and riot just for fun or over entertainment?

A cursory look at the catalysts for Blacks rioting in Canada, Britain and the United States are injustices, often with police action setting the spark.

Cases in point: Four Miami-Dade County police officers were acquitted by an all-white jury in the December 17, 1979, beating death of ex-marine Arthur McDuffie. Liberty City, Miami’s largest Black neighbourhood erupted. The three-day riot resulted in 18 deaths, over 400 injured and more than $100 million in property damage.

The acquittal of Sgt. Stacey Koon, Officers Laurence Powell, Theodore Briseno and Timothy Wind of their March 3, 1991, beating of Rodney King by all-white jury led to April 1992 riots in Los Angeles. Fifty-three people died, a billion dollars worth of damage was done, and thousands were injured.

After the investigation, the Christopher Commission declared that the Los Angeles police Department (LAPD) was rife with racism and abuse.

Britain’s 1981 Brixton riot and the 1985 Handsworth riot in Birmingham as well as their stop-and-search laws that targeted Blacks were enshrined in song and poetry by many. (LKJ) Linton Kwesi Johnson “Di Great Insoreckshan” and “Sonny’s Letter,” and Steel Pulse “Handsworth Revolution” have achieved classic status.

Overwhelmingly, when whites’ riot, it’s not for change or over things that repress, oppress, exploit or discriminate against them in any shape or form. They’d riot because they live bored, pampered lives.

To deflect from the proclivity of whites to “riot for entertainment,” municipal authorities, the police and the media made a habit of blaming anarchists, hooligans and thugs.

Kingston, Ontario, Queen’s University 2005 homecoming festivities turned into what news agencies described as “an alcohol-fuelled riot.” Police officers were stoned with beer bottles; a car was set alight and so on. Racial slurs and racial invectives rained down on a Black police officer.

Repeated homecoming parties were so out of control, in 2008 the University decided to cancel homecoming for the next two years.

When the Canadiens won the 1986 Stanley Cup in Calgary, thousands of hockey fans went on a rampage through Montreal downtown. In the face of indiscriminate rioting and looting, Guy Descary, chairman of the MUC public security committee was quoted in the May 26, 1996, Gazette saying, “People were just having fun. They were enjoying themselves.”

On June 9, 1993, the Canadiens won their 24th Stanley Cup. In their enjoyment, parked cars were overturned and set on fire, bonfires were lit, 152 stores looted, 15 city buses and 47 police cars were destroyed.

Upon the Canadiens eliminating Boston Bruins in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, fans bent on having fun smashed store windows to loot, and set fires to police cruisers.

When the Canadiens defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 12, 2010, thousands of hockey fans descended on Montreal downtown core. Despite the ensuing hooliganism, police characterized the reaction as tame compared to previous celebrations.

The Canucks loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals resulted in widespread rioting in downtown Vancouver. The Canucks loss to the New York Rangers in 1994 Game 7 Stanley Cup Finals also resulted in rioting. So it’s not as if the city/police couldn’t see it coming and be proactive.

Cellphone camera technology and CCTV cameras along with social media have made identifying rioters easier. Huge numbers of upstanding working, middle-class citizens, professionals, students and athletes were identified and charged in the recent riots in Vancouver and Britain as opposed to supposed thugs and miscreants.

While Vancouverites happily rioted over hockey, the October 2007 death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski by the hands of the RCMP at the Vancouver International Airport was not a worthy cause worth rioting over.

In August 2008, Montreal North erupted in flames over Constable Jean-Loup Lapointe killing of Fredy Villaneuva, and the shootings of Denis Meas and Jeffrey Sagor-Météllus- all Hispanics. The rioting was summarily condemned. Anti-immigrant sentiments and racism against “visible minorities” were openly expressed.

The Boston Globe of July 6, 1995, carried the article, “Montreal police get reputation for violence.” That truism was reconfirmed in June 2011, when police shot and killed Mario Hamel, a mentally ill homeless man who was slitting roadside garbage bags with a knife.

Their wild volley of bullets also killed Patrick Limoges who was on his way to work.

Consider that in 2008, a still unnamed Montreal police officer ran into the gym across the street from a police station and terrorized everyone within. He destroyed fitness equipment, broke glass doors and mirrors, and fired eight bullets into the ceiling and walls.

In spite of the extreme danger posed by an out-of-control officer with a gun, the officers on the scene were gentle and protective of their own. They didn’t use deadly force. They used rubber bullets to subdue him.

How can a man with a knife die and one with a gun trained in its usage, and who used it live? Ergo, there is no justification for the deadly force that led to the deaths of Hamel and Limoges.

White Montrealers didn’t see their deaths as worth a riot. Anti-police protests drew a measly 200 persons.

While the senselessness of Duggan’s death as well as police attitudes resulted in riots spreading to other cities across Britain, the demographic moved beyond aggrieved Blacks. Huge numbers of whites participated.

Given the amount of white professionals and the like arrested, one must conclude that adventure, fun, and opportunism to get goods for free were motivators.

In spite of evidence to the contrary, Yahoo Canada sought to racialise the riots. The 4th story on its home page automatic image and synopsis of story slider of August 11, at 8h00 was “London police raid houses in riot crackdown.” The accompanying photo was that of an arrested Black male in the company of two officers.

On the other hand, its parent company, story that same day and titled, “London police raiding houses over UK riots,” carried two photos. One was of riot police holding their shields and the other was that of a white guy and the caption- “Police officers question a man during a routine stop and search operation.”

Protectors of racial bias will resort to anything for justification. As way of explaining the overwhelming amount of whites who participated in the riots, historian and broadcaster David Starkey told his BBC audience that “the whites have become black.”

Clearly, he positioned Blacks as having the monopoly on rioting and looting and a corrupting influence.

December 16, 1773, is an important day in American history. Under the banner of “No taxation without representation,” white colonists dressed as Indians boarded three ships in Boston Harbour loaded with tea belonging to the British government and threw them overboard. The event is known as The Boston Tea Party.

For certainty, if Blacks had engaged in such sabotage, half of that tea would’ve made it back to shore and in their homes and shops. That’s how we do.

Based on historical evidence, whites have a penchant for destroying things for the sake of destroying, to punish or to keep prices high.

Thus unused clothing from megastores and brands that could go to charitable organizations, homeless shelters or the nation’s poor end up either shredded or defaced so unusable. It is not unusual for surplus food and produce to end up in landfills rather than the marketplace. That’s the politics of business.

Interestingly, despite representation, and taxation that benefits both the state and federal governments, Americans disgruntled by Obama’s presence in the White House took their bearings from that 1773 event, hence the Tea Party label.

They cannot reconcile having to respect the office of the president whilst feeling inherently superior to the holder of that office. (Any person of African descent in power positions can attest to having experienced white subordinates with lesser qualification doing their best to undermine them. I can.)

Given the tenor of the discourse, the Tea Party and Republicans would rather see America turn into a banana republic than Obama win another term. Chances are the next riot is going to be of angry white men seeking to uphold privilege.

Why Emancipation Observances Matter

Why Emancipation Observances Matter

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 18)


September 1, 2011

Two things: At an Emancipation event, a fellow attendee remarked that he was tired of “all the slavery days” recollection.” He felt they weren’t necessary to our moving forward. Secondly, I was asked about my preoccupation with Emancipation and why should its observation matter.

Emancipation matters because it marked a decisive legislative, political and social shift in the lives of Blacks. It was the taking up one’s bed to walk.

After centuries of being considered non-human by whites, and treated as such, Emancipation represented reclaiming one’s humanity, one’s dignity, and freedom to be whatever – the freedom to achieve. Without its passing, chances are people of African descent might today be still trapped in chattel slavery.

A people with no knowledge and sense of its past, and of itself, will be a people without memory, identity, and the cultural imperatives to determine its success. They would be ill-equipped to defend themselves intellectually or physically as well as say, “Never Again!

The past shapes the present and determines the future. Unless understood and addressed, the historical will always influence the cultural and social reality. Thus we speak of institutionalized racism- structures that perpetuate the inequities and injustices of our racial past and contribute to failure as a legacy.

Studying and understanding the past; the history, errors, misjudgements, accidents, unforeseen and unintended consequences, lies, defeats, battles, struggles, successes and its assorted characters allow a people/person to be conscious, vigilant, mindful of repeating the same mistakes and better informed in the charting of their future.

And that applies to our personal relationships as well.

There is no lack of motivation, intellectual brilliance and talent in Black communities. What there is is our youth beset by a slew of powerful societal forces including the lack of opportunities that contribute to their erosion of faith, possibilities of achievement, and attraction to gangs.

Sages have long detailed, “As a man thinks, so he is. As he continues to think, so he remains. As we think today, so we are tomorrow, and whatever you believe you are that you are.”

Thus I see slavery and Emancipation observances as a starting point for mental, psychological and educational recalibration. Revitalizing nectar in our struggles against historical, institutional, and extremely deep-rooted cultural forces that continue their negatively impact on the race.

We know that the education system is failing young Black males across many areas and levels. Unemployment rates are high, incarceration rates are escalating, and there are destructive pressures in the community that undermine male aspirations.

We know young Black males face a dearth of role models, and their perceptions of masculine identity, respect and pride are warped to say the least. While hands wring, we remain short on answers. I believe revisiting Black History will return the power of pride and person.

Consider the Jews. All are aware of the narrative of their enslavement in Egypt. The Exodus narrative is the foundation to Jewish faith, identity, political formulation and nationalism. But according to Genesis 41:43 and Genesis 46:27, Egypt saved the Jews not once, but twice.

The Biblical telling is that 70 hungry and starving souls from the House of Jacob went into Egypt, and when they left 400 years later under Moses, and with so much gold that they built a golden calf, they were in the thousands.

One cannot spend 400 years in a country and not be influenced by its traditions, educational, political and social culture.

70 multiplying into thousands make the Jews a people who came of age under the tutelage of Egypt. Yet, every year when Jews celebrate Passover, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, they vilify Egypt over their enslavement.

On the other hand, numerous others including members our race would much prefer people of African descent forget about enslavement, slavery days and reparations.

Annually, Canada commemorates Remembrance Day. Remembrance Day is more than paying tribute to the soldiers who fell to preserve our freedoms. It psychologically reminds the society that the sacrifice of one’s life for country is the ultimate demand of citizenship. That perhaps one day each would be called upon to fulfill that unspoken oath.

There is no day of remembrance or memorial for the untold millions of Africans who through enslavement or not, contributed towards the building of our nation/other nations. There is no day of remembrance or memorial for the untold millions of Africans who died on route to the New World.

Emancipation observances are our Days of Remembrance. It is letting our ancestors know they are not forgotten. It is acknowledgement of our debt to them, honouring their denied humanity. It is symbolic of racial commitment, empowering and moving the race forward.

My hope is we can move Emancipation forward to the point where people of African descent would gladly take time off from work for its commemoration.