Friday, December 10, 2010

Trading Black Power for Cash

In 1968 the first black men momentously won the gold and bronze medal at the Mexico City Olympics and defined when Black power went global. On the winner's stand fro teh 200 meter race Tommie Smith and John Carlos put their fist in the air and head to the ground as the celebrated their victory with the black community in America. Unfortunately, the majority of America viewed the homage the ultimate sign of disrespect and betrayal to America. The Olympics committee even stripped the Olympian of his metal to show how deeply their unrest lie. A rally on an international scale erupted soon after; thousands were shocked and upset with the committees decision.

That year, 1968, in particular was full of racial and social turmoil. it was in the thick of the non-violence and black power movement. Stokely Carmichael was still extremely active in the movement he had spoken at a host of rallies. He also spoke out against the assignation of Dr. King in April of that year. The infamous trial of Huey P. Newton rounded out the year. In the midst of all this, all the way in Mexico City, México two Olympians had earned a huge victory in the world arena and raised their fists to show thanks and support to all that had happened in 1968 and the years previous.

In October of this year Tommie Smith, reported by MSNBC, auctioned off the gold Medal and red and white stripped puma’s he was wearing during the 1968 Olympics. The bids started at $250,000. The money raised from the historical memorabilia is going directly into Mr. Smith’s pocket. His actions reflect his greed and contrast the ideals for which he raised his fist for 42 years ago. I understand the medal was his to do what he pleased, but there are so many racial inequities still today I wish he would have donated to a group that works to solve these problems. Black Power is about the power, resilience, creativeness, strength and love of black people. Mr. Smith did not exhibit any of these characteristics when he pocked the funds of such an item that epitomized Black power. He made a capital gain from a medal that stood for anti- capitalism. What does this say about the importance of black power and racial inequality today?


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