Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nightmares and Agitations

For some masochistic reason, as I propped up the ankle, I tuned in the local news.
In DC today it was dominated by the sad story of Sean Taylor, a professional football player for the team my son calls the "racist-skins." Taylor, an All Pro defensive player, was shot in his Miami home in the wee hours of Monday morning and died early this morning.
There is much to be agitated about in a story that draws together the violent world of professional football, the violent worlds of Miami and Washington, the violent world that so many young, African-American men live in, and the violence of America's continuing legacy of racism.
I can't get past the news descriptions that reported Taylor getting out of bed when he heard an intruder in the house and grabbing for the machete that he kept near his bed for protection. What kind of nightmare world is it where some folks have to sleep with machetes near their beds?
As one Post writer pointed out, whether or not most of us live in that world, it seems to attract more than its fair share of young athletes who too often fail to connect the dots of contexts and consequences.
More than a fair share of those young athletes are African-American men. Could there be some slight connection between that factoid and cultural blindness to such things as team names like Redskins, that trace back to America's original sin? There is, after all, a connection between contexts and consequences. Indeed, linguistic contexts have real-world consequences. In other words, words matter.
I don't expect any real reflections on such connections to come out of this sad death, but Taylor's father said he hoped his son's life was not in vain. If it sparks some deeper reflections on race and violence, perhaps his life and his violent death might have some deeper meaning than just another nightmare of a young black man murdered.

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