Big Ups to (New) Jerusalem

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Happy Jerusalem Day!!!

The word, the vibe, the feel, the touch, the sense and intense all reverberate with exquisite pleasure..when thinking of Jerusalem. Jerusalem has, is, and will remain the core aspect of the Jewish people. The word Jerusalem has been uttered by many historically Jewish figures, and is counted over 500 times in the Tanach. Even when we as a nation were exiled, beaten down by the nations, and short of hope, Jerusalem still fed our spiritual batteries. These pseudo-historians who try to rewrite history by de-Judaizing Jerusalem are lost for sources. If you look at the countless Jewish sources, we see a clear line of support and longing by the Jews after the destruction of the Temple (The second time around) and the subsequent exile.

Once Jews were scattered amongst the nations, they did something that most non-Jews, and the haters, either are ignorant of or try to bury it due to its inconvenient truth. The truth is that these diverse Jewish communities spanning from parts of the Middle East to North, from the southern European coast to the farthest eastern lands, Jews always collected funds for the Jews of Jerusalem. This communal charity was ongoing throughout the generations, and many prominent Rabbis in Eastern Europe even urged their students to take up residence in the Holy Land. One example is the great Vilna Gaon….

who urged his students to immigrate to the great land, and reach the fine gates of Jerusalem. Unfortunately, there was a long waiting period, a 2000 year waiting period, which came to an end after the Israeli Defense Forces regained control of the land from the Jordanians. Thank G-d for these brave souls who unified the city, and that we are allowed to live and pray in Jerusalem, the eye of the universe according to the great Reb Aryeh Kaplan Z’L.

Throughout this 2000 year period Jewish communities began to find comfort within their “host” countries. One example is the Jewish community of Berlin, where Reform Judaism began, where they began to look away from Jerusalem to Berlin, or as they called it the New Jerusalem. So, now I want to show how in Hip-Hop this idea of using the slang of Jerusalem to refer to New Jerusalem, New Jeruzalem, or just New Jerus, is another way of using the Hebrew word to authenticate their rap skills and Hip-Hop chops. Now, where is this amazingly utopian land that rappers bestowed upon the majestic title of New Jerus? Our own, and where I currently reside, state of New Jersey!?!

Yes, New Jersey. The land of board walks, fist pumps, and all the lovely cannon fodder reality TV, or MTV, offered us so that South Park could make fun of it!

So, let us look at the many rap shout outs to the land of Jerusalem, New Jerusalem that is.

We got plenty of these hard-hitting tracks like Ghostface Killah’s anthem from his first album Iron Man.

Raekwon the Chef drops it when he rhymes that “We losing em, jet to the stash in New Jerusalem.”

We should also take note that New Jersey has seen it’s share of talented rappers who proclaim the name, so that New York City won’t stay the same. These groups include such heavyweights as the Poor Righteous Teachers…

This is a great tale of the attempt to purge the Ghetto pathology, thanks to “Miss Ghetto.” RIP and Z’L to DJ Father Shaheed who recently passed.

We also have the legendary graffiti crew, as well as talented mic manipulators, the Artifacts.

The crew of Tame One and El Da Sensei lit up the streets with the hard hits, while proclaiming the great state of graf, New Jersey. Don;t front because the sate has some interesting murals and graffiti pieces, just roll on the New Jersey transit towards Trenton and you’ll be amazed at the great art, including a lovely mural of the late songstress Amy Winehouse.

The list goes on and on with the like of Redman, The Fugees, Naughty By Nature, Channel Live, and many more. Let us never forget the great state of New Jeruz, lest our arms be severed and our tongues cleave to our mouths.

Jerusalem has weighed on many Jews brains, whether conscious or subconscious, since we landed on this G-d given land. Let me end by saying that even non-religious artists feel that connection. As the great singer Bob Dylan wrote in his great, and never released on an album, song titled “Blind Willie McTell.” In the start of the first verse Dylan sings he’s “Seen the arrow on the doorpost, Saying, ‘this land is condemned, all the way from New Orleans to Jerusalem.”

This is where it all began, where it all remains, and where we will all make our trails.

 

 

 

 

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The Jews Who Made Rap videos

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Many great filmmakers began honing their crafts in smaller, or less glamorous settings. Some of the great directors of our age, and the past, began in the business filming TV commercials, small student projects, cable access channel specials, or any other medium where they could get their chops. One very interesting venue for filmmakers, coming of age in the late 1960′ and early 1970’s, was in shooting porn films. There was actually a small sliver of time, as argued in the documentary Inside Deep Throat,

where these directors felt that the porn world would collapse into mainstream entertainment. Well, that never came about, but back to the freshmen of filmmaking.

Just like the people before them, two Jews came into the Def Jam fold, and began to learn and earn their chops. Their names are Brett Ratner and Steve Carr. Ratner we all know very well as the rambunctious creator of films that reach the apex of epic proportions. Carr, on the other hand, is not as known but he’s just as important to the history of Rap music video making.

 

Steven Carr grew up in Brooklyn, A/K/A The Planet – as said by the almighty Guru, RIP/Z’L, and attended art school and later Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts. Big ups the Manhattan art schools as many accomplished musicians and artists came out of that system, including the best drummer in the world, my father – Gene Cipriani! Anyway, after graduating from school Carr met with Russell Simmons and convinced him to hire him on as the album cover designer for Def Jam Records. Some of his legendary designs include, but are not limited to, Redman’s extra dark second album, Dare Iz A Darkside

Which actually was an homage to the classic album cover for Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain

He also did the cover for 3rd Bass’s Cactus Album….

And, the smokey, and very mysterious album cover, that at first sight took me time to fully comprehend what I was looking at, let alone the magnitude of the music….Method Man’s classic….Tical..

Carr eventually began directing music videos for the likes of Ice Cube, Ludacris, Moby (Nobody cares Moby!), Nelly, Timbaland, The Def Squad, Slick Rick and Jay Z….

Here’s the video he made for Slick Rick’s “Behind Bars,” made while Rick was still behind bars…

I just played my girl the classic film, Usual Suspects, thanks to our fanatic love of the Netflix show that is as addictive as crack, House of Cards. Funny thing is that Carr directed Jay Z’s version of the film in the video for his song “City is Mine.”

And, for the funny in all of us, he also directed Redman’s video for “Da Goodness” off his classic, and last great album Doc’s Da Name

He was eventually tapped, by Ice Cube, to direct the sequel to the west coast hood classic, Friday. His first film Next Friday lacked that hood giving way to the slap stick funny, but it was successful. Since then he’s directed many Ice Cube ventures including other films like Dr. Doolittle 2, Daddy Day Care, Rebound, and most recently a segment for Movie 43, where Brett Ratner contributed as well. Thanks to Steve Carr, and Russell Simmons we got to see more talent. Simmons knew the potential, and still feels this kinship with Jews. He also hired another hungry Jew with the raw talent for filmmaking.

Brett Ratner has quite a different story to tell. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, he grew up in a middle-class Jewish family. Ratner attended some of his High School years in Israel until his return, and graduation from Miami Beach’s Senior High School. He later attended NYU, and as he says he barely graduated as he was more focused on directing and girls, girls, girls. He hooked up with Russell Rush, who was impressed by his masculine prowess. He also introduced him to some of his work, and the rest as they write is history.

Ratner, like Carr, has a distinct style and of course it would be natural for a Jew to debut his craft by directing a video diss of MC Serch by Prime Minister Pete Nice and Daddy Rich…called “Rat Bastard.”

Interesting diss, and a keen eye using the infamous bat scene from the great film, The Untouchables.

He caught the black and white world of Redman in his great video to “Tonight’s Da Night”…

He made the video for the great hit by Heavy D and the Boyz, “Nuthin’ But Love”

Take note of Chris Tucker who would later appear in some of Ratner’s films.

He also directed the energy swerving video for Wu-Tang’s second coming, “Triumph”

Not many remember, but when this dropped in 1997 it blazed open the last frontier that burst open when they dropped their debut album, Enter the 36 Chambers. The video was also highly anticipated, and hyped beyond belief by the station that is the conveyor belt of popular culture, MTV. When it hit the TV screens fans of the Wu, including myself, were frothing at the mouth. Ratner gave us the visual matching the Wu-Tang’s prestige in 1997.

Ratner went on to direct high-flying, and fully explosive action movies. These include, but are not limited to films such as Money Talks, the Rush Hour films, X-Men: The Last Stand, Tower Heist, and is currently working on the fourth installment of the Beverly Hills Cop films…..say it ain’t so Axel Foley.

These Jews are very interesting, as they paved their way through hip-hop in order to fulfill their dreams. Also, Ratner is very connected with his Jewish heritage and past. I can’t speak for Carr, but I personally heard about Brett Ratner’s adventures of discovering his people’s past. Here’s my story.

I was in Poland, venturing with a group of Jewish young adults, sightseeing the passed glories and not so past atrocities. When I was on the journey I went with a group affiliated with a religious organization out of New York City. When I was there I met a past participant who was on the same flight as Brett Ratner. Sitting right next to Ratner was the legendary Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski. Apparently he was so fascinated that he wanted to experience Poland through the eyes of a Polish Jew. It’s interesting as I said how American Jews broadly define themselves, yet they still have some clinging to the past. I’m not a huge fan of his films, but I admire his work and his determination. May we all be able to be true to ourselves, our identity, and our pasts .

#BrettRatner #SteveCarr

 

 

 

 

 

JewBlackFace..A Blast From the Past

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Jews in the United States have dominated the music scene since the turn of the 20th Century. However, the early pioneers of American music not only delved into their past musical traditions  (and when I speak of Jews I speak of the rise in Cantorial records being made, along with other folk songs from Eastern Europe and beyond……This being one example..),

This is a rendition of V’shamru, which is the prayer beckoning the Sabbath/Shabbat to come in all its beautiful glory. As you can hear, the recording is minimal where the full richness of his voice, along with the organ, punctures the very soul.

they also delved in African-American culture. While doing this, as arguably certain Jewish rappers do today, they picked up these pre-conceived notions, as well as stereotypes, of black cadences, vernacular, and all around behaviors. Jews also wanted to legitimize themselves in order to blend in with the culture. However, in this rigidly defined land of race and racism, Jews at first were lumped in as racially black. Like the Nazi regime’s ideologies, and the growing tenor of the biological and racial aspects of anti-Semitism, the United States looked at them first as black.

This meant that Jews were placed in the same geographic locations as other undesirables like blacks, but also Italians, and the Irish. However, unlike the Italians and the Irish, Jews have had a far more fraught and ambiguous life in Europe. Once coming to the shores they tried something new, and this was the true beginning of the Jewish musical synthesis. Many notable artists, and performers donned the racialized guise of the burnt cork. The minstrel shows were dying down by the turn of the century, but Jews brought it back in a while new way.

One of the best representations, and one I recently came across, is a piece by Al Jolson. Jolson, is interesting as he grew up in a religious household, only to shun it for show business. Also, being the son of a Cantor, as was depicted in the semi-autobiographical movie The Jazz Singer, Jolson chose the stage over the Bimah (The Jewish equivalence of singing at the pulpit). This interesting segment shows how deeply ingrained his performance was with his use of black face.

To the modern viewer, this is a repulsively racialized representation of the simple pastoral scene for a simple black man. The dark face, torn and loose-fitting overalls, the nappy hair, and the location all tried to convey a simple past, which was far in stark contrast to the reality. However, this performance is very telling in how he tries to imitate, and even emulate this mysterious music. Many scholars, and theorists, as well as the politically correct find this abhorring and highly insensitive. If we side step all their baggage, it could also be said that this was Jolson’s form of flattery. He is trying his best to combine his Jewish musical sensibilities with this untapped treasure, which was black music. No matter the case, this is a great representation of a Jolson act in all its live authenticity.

George Gershwin, the amazingly talented pianist and composer, is another example of this Jewish and black fusion. His most ambitious, as well as category defying, opera was Porgy and Bess. In 1926 George Gershwin read the book Porgy, which is the basis of the opera, by DuBose Heyward, who was a native of Charleston, South Carolina. Gershwin was highly enthusiastic about doing the opera, as well as pumping it full of new innovations he had not used before. In the summer of 1934 Gershwin came down to South Carolina where he and Heyward stayed at Folly Beach, which is a small island near Charleston. Gershwin’s time in that locale was mind-changing as he soaked up the climate, and its amazing music. By living in this environment Gershwin began to write out his masterpiece. Porgy and Bess was revolutionary in its complexity, and the tale is gut wrenching. However, the use of what he perceived to be the black vernacular enhanced that southern feeling. You could feel the hot sun in the tune “Summertime” as the beads of sweat drip down the body.

This is another great synthesis of Jewish black music. Some see this as exploitation, racism, and any other negative connotation. But, some see this as a progression of a new direction in creativity. It is also telling how using these racial overtones could be the highest form of, a perceived (?), compliment.

Moving down the line and closer to the present we can see many Jews doing the same. Jewish rappers take the same cue by using this art form, in this case rap music, and transforming it into their own. Artists from the highest plains of fame, like Drake, to the underground like Edan, El-P, and Action Bronson are walking in the footsteps of Jolson, Gershwin, and the rest of the pack.

Drake is a perfect example, and his video for “HYFR” with Lil’ Wayne, shows both sides of this coin. Drake, who is half black and half Jewish, identifies with both. Therefore, he used both images and combining them into one Jewish/Black Bar Mitzvah…

He incorporates the celebration of a Jewish Bar Mitzvah, which is a right of passage ceremony for twelve-year-old girls, and thirteen-year-old boys. It is filled with the usual gawking relatives, old bubies, uncle Moishe, and his best friend Josh. The party is also laced with black people who are partying in their delight, while a panda masked Wayne represents this side of the aisle. Drake is also showing how these Jewish images, and other words and phrases, are becoming rather ubiquitous.

Again, this is another natural progression where Jews synthesized the music they knew with the music they love.

 

#AlJolson #GeorgeGershwin #Drake #El-P #ActionBronson #Edan

It’s All in the Art, Part 2

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I realized that my last dispatch from beyond the local hemisphere presented some great works of album cover art. I also included the Jewish inspired covers, and of course I made sure to give props to Rick Ross……cause Bar Mitzvhas are hard to do. This time around I want to continue on with my drum beating presentations of Jews and Hip-Hop. Jews have played an integral role in Hip-Hop, and as the art became far more global and accessible, Jews became far more prolific and eclectic. However, before I can lead the cheering from the bleachers, we all need to give great credit to our historical forefathers. Like Abraham wandering through the deserts of Canaan, on a spiritual quest, like Moses standing atop Mount Sinai, we all need to give props where props are due. In this particular post I want to re-focus on the mythological Def Jam label and its many Jews. Actually, like Moses holding the tablets with his insanely pronounced beard, Rick Rubin came down from the mountain top giving us the Def Jam imprint we all know and love.

Rick Rubin created the Def Jam logo out of his NYU dorm room. He made sure to emphasize the true grit behind a real live rap performance. Instead of the cookie cutter rap music that was being produced in the early 1980’s, (Yes, they made throw away rap records as early as 1980) Rubin wanted to emphasize the raw abilities of the rappers on record. However, he was not the main art director, as he stuck to producing some of the classic rap masterpieces for Def Jam. It was the work of another Jew that brought us the visual aspects through photography, and through the immortal album covers we all keep deep in the vaults of our brains.

This artist, Glen E. Friedman, of many talents has captured some of the most amazing images of the Def Jam roster, and beyond. He captured some of the best and most poignant moments, characterized through the use of black and white film to show the truth behind the color.

Originally born in North Carolina, he later moved to California and would be an integral part of captivating what we know as the skate boarders of Dog Town, made famous by the the recent documentary (where he played a large part in its production and execution) Dog Town and Z-Boys. He took most of these memorable photos, showing the skaters in action, riding in the empty pools as he bent over backwards to capture some magnificent shots.

It was here in the land of lost angels where he first met the Def Jam crew, coming for a round of concerts by the Beastie Boys.

He met the Beasties, but he also met Russell “Rush” Simmons and Rick Rubin, and as they say the rest is Hip-Hop history. However, it should be known that Glen E. Friedman was, and remains, such a diverse artist that he also felt akin to the growing punk scene in California, as well as all over the country.

He captured these amazing minutes of performance by the band Black Flag, and this was the Henry Rollins era so extra crisp with that dirt.

Of course he was not limited to any one act, he caught other amazing acts like the killer straight edge combo Fugazi.

He also caught some shots of the great New Jersey punk band the Misfits, and of course their lead singer Danzig!

Still, it was Friedman who also captured some of the best shots of rap music’s immortal untouchables, at least to my generation. These were the legends, who still remain very relevant, although it depends to which generation.

The shots of the hit makers of the era, as well as the young up-and comers who were ready to eat the competition for lunch….like Kool Moe Dee?

 

I feel like I’m promoting but you should all look up his website and make sure to look at all the amazing photos. He also has some interesting meetings of the celebrity minds…..like,

And……of course the Beasties with another famous Jew (Who was also born in Israel)….

And, as I wrote in a blog of day’s past that it was Glen, a Jew, who shot most of Public Enemy’s early publicity shots, and designed their album covers like It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back

He has also been a part of the political protest movements, and does not shy away from political figures, at least the more fiery brand….

And, in the present we can also admire the great photos he took of the pioneers who are no longer with us for some reason or another….

RIP and Z’L Buffy the Human Beat Box….

RIP and Z’L to Jam Master Jay, you were taken too early….and

RIP and Z’L to MCA, keep the cosmos and the nether regions of space pumping!!!

The very talented Mr. Friedman was there, and as I write of these Jews who were so deeply ingrained in Hip-Hop, I want to point out how the genesis of Hip-Hop was so multi-faceted that we should make sure to research all the people who made this all possible.

Mad love and much Respect….

Shabbat Shalom,

 

It’s All in the Art

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Hey Hey all, and Happy Israeli Independence Day!!! I have to also send a huge shout out, as the day before was the Israeli equivalency of our Veteran’s Day, to all the fallen soldiers, victims or Jew hating across the globe, and the many Jewish fighters who made it all possible. I am very proud of all the Israelis who put themselves aside for the sake of the nation. I’m also a bit biased as I have some friends in the military, as well as a younger brother – shout out to Yoni, and my favorite ex-Israeli Private, my father – Gene Cipriani.

But, for the sake of my usual theme I want to veer from the political to the art world. I want to highlight all those great rap albums, and singles, with amazing artwork that have some Jewness in them. And here…..we go in the immortal words of Slick Rick the Ruler…..

I recently stumbled upon an amazing mix, or actually a de-construction and reconstruction, of the classic Beastie Boys album, Paul’s Boutique. This is an amazing mix, which is mixed by three DJ’s – DJ Cheeba, DJ Moneyshot, and DJ Food, which reinterprets while telling the story of the creation of this magnum opus.

http://www.egotripland.com/pauls-boutique-remixed-cheeba-moneyshot-food/

The reason I’m mentioning this, besides being the sitting cheerleader for this mix, is because this is an immortal album that still holds on to the sands of time. Today it still has this fresh element, and unlike most of today’s so-called rap albums, carrying this aura of authentic hip-hop performance, as well as creative dexterity. I also love the album cover…

Here’s another great shot…

It should also be mentioned that the art of their first album cover for Licensed to Ill was also interesting. Actually they also have some frat humor attached as you can see here:

And if you turn it in the opposite direction it reads like this…

Besides this amazing mix, I began to sift through the many great mixes made by DJ Moneyshot, there are more. Another great deconstruction made by Moneyshot is to the politically charged, and still very relevant, sophomore album by Public Enemy. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back was their slap in the face of the “cold-get-dumb” fanfare that was on the rise during this time.

Check out the killer mix here: http://www.egotripland.com/dj-moneyshot-public-enemy-it-takes-a-nation-of-millions-to-hold-us-back-mix-solid-steel-and-the-hour-of-chaos-download/

I bet you didn’t know that the man who designed the album cover, along with the group, was the Jewish wonder photographer Glen Friedman.

The image is powerful, showing Chuck D’s no-nonsense demeanor, while a more serious looking Flavor Flav is behind him. No matter the issues, and centuries of oppression, they are saying that nothing can stop us now. This album was amazing in many ways, blasting politics, while introducing both their black and white audiences to the history of racial injustice in the United States. Unlike their contemporaries they attacked these issues, in the same vein as their representations, which was personified by hard, sonic booms, and bombastic flair. Hearing it for the first time in Israel I was floored, and frankly scared, of this insane country known as America.

This cover is from the album titled Doom, which is the debut album of the rap group Mood. This is very interesting as a very young DJ by the name of DJ Hi-Tek was part of the group. He produced most of the album, which featured guest spots from his future Reflection Eternal partner Talib Kweli. This launched their careers, and the group Lone Catalysts with producer J. Rawls.

Let’s not forget all the other uses of the famed Star of David….

Apparently Rick Ross just became a man….Mazal Tov Maybach!!!

Anyway, this is a short dispatch but I hope for the best and send a shout out to all of you.

Peace

 

 

 

 

Ego Trip’s Sports Racism Hall of Shame

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I have to give credit, or mad props in hip-hop speak, to the eclectic and very funny crew from Ego Trip fame. Ego Trip was a hilarious hip-hop trade fanzine, spewing hot fire when it came to jokes and rap music. In the immortal title of Diamond D’s classic, they were chock full of stunts, blunts, and hip-hop. They also dropped two classic books, the first being the Ego Trip Book of Rap Lists, which is a treasure trove of information for the avid reader. Their second book, Ego Trip’s Big Book of Racism, is different chronicling the sick, sad, and funny truth behind race construction and deconstruction in the fair land of the United States. This is where I obtained the title to my blog post, but the inspiration came from the shame of L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, coming from his racist rant which was recorded due to his spotty memory. I guess it’s safe to say that it will forever be embedded for the rest of his life.

I wont cover the details, as you can turn to any news publication and see the story retold over and over again. One thing that this blog is concerned with is the Jewish image, and the fact that he’s a Jew is an annoyance to say the least. However, it should be noted that certain (Not All) of the older Jewish American generation are everyone’s favorite Neo-conservatives. Certain Jews still carry this paternalistic viewpoint, which not only exists in sports but in other professions as well, like the music industry. However, I want to highlight some of the previous members of the hall of shame, and induct Sterling for his sterling performance. First up to the plate is, what Ego Trip terms, “The Old and Stupid Wing.”

The first honor goes to Al Campanis who for a short time played baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Montreal Expos. Interestingly enough he played on Montreal with Jackie Robinson, and he was a scout later discovering the Jewish pitching phenomenon Sandy (No playing on Yum Kippur) Koufax. But, he is known for certain comments made during an interview on Baseball’s opening day in 1987. The date was special as they were going to honor Jackie Robinson for the fortieth anniversary of his breaking the color line. Campanis, a former teammate of Robinson’s and an executive for the L.A. Dodgers weighed in on the event, being interviewed by Ted Koppel. He told the interviewer that Blacks “may not have some of the necessities to be a field manager or perhaps a general manager.” He went on to ask how many blacks are good swimmers? And then answered his own question with none because according to him “They don’t have the buoyancy.” Bizarre to say the least.

Next up is Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder, who was born Dimetrios Georgios Synodinos, and his whirlwind of predictions. Jimmy was a close friend of Dean Martin, and rampant numbers man who bet on anything that had any resemblance to a point spread. He even bet on the nail-biter of a presidential election in 1948 between Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey, and supposedly bet $10,000 on Truman. He opened his mouth up not long after Al decided to enlighten us on the limitations of African-Americans. Right before Super Bowl XXII Jimmy decided to, in a booze soaked rant, enlighten us on the superiority of black athletes. It was rather confused and dis-combobulated, but the moments of clarity were just as peculiar. He alluded to the fact that during slavery, slave masters would specifically breed their slaves to have “high thighs and big size.” I’m glad that these slave owners found out the secret for a precursor to the convolution of eugenics. Next up, “The Curious But Stupid Wing.”

Kerry Collins has had quite a career starting out strong at Penn State, and then progressing to a prolific career in the NFL, playing for at least five different teams. Unfortunately for him he will be remembered as the quarterback who was annihilated by the Insane Baltimore Ravens during Super Bowl XXXV. Apparently he was also a champion drinker whose antics were well-known in the Charlotte area when he was playing for the Carolina Panthers. During one drunken haze of a night, during a team party, he called one of his black teammates a “nigger.” Apparently he meant it as a joke, but it should be noted that he heard it plenty in the locker room. When you’re drunk, and with teammates who share a strong bond, words can slide out, which is what it seems became of this incident. However, it seems like nothing changed and the same culture is pervasive in major league football, as well as other sports.

Next up is the Jewish comments made by New York Knicks players Charlie Ward and Allan Houston. Charlie Ward was an accomplished college football and basketball player for Florida State University. He played for the Knicks in their better, but not necessarily winning, days of the mid-1990’s into the new millenium. In 2001 Ward allegedly said that, “Jews are stubborn.” They had (Jesus’s) blood on their hands. “There are Christians getting persecuted by Jews everyday.” The words were printed in a story in the New York Times Magazine section, but they were spoken at one of his Bible study groups. I think another detail that was lost is the fact that the author of the article was a Jew who attended this rigidly sounding Christian group. The words sound, and the article sounded more like this, like they came from a sheltered guy who’s Christian views were very rigidly defined. Once the article came out he was condemned by the league, his team, and the press. At first Ward defended himself saying that he “didn’t mean to offend any one group because that’s not what I’m about. I have friends that are Jewish. Actually, my friend is a Jewish guy, and his name is Jesus Christ.” He also clarified that Jews were stubborn due to their disinclination to convert to Christianity. It was also exasperated by the fact that his teammate, Allan Houston chimed in saying that Jews, “Spit on Jesus’ face and hit him with their fists.” Both players sound off the Jews killed Jesus saying, which the Catholic Church actually rescinded in Vatican two in the 1960’s. Apparently these guys didn’t get the message. These words are problematic because they present a pathology of hate going back generations where Anti-Judaism sounded just like this. It is also sorrowful to hear such statements that are so devoid of facts, especially the last line of Christian persecution by Jews. It’s also completely disingenuous to jump on any racial epithet with scorn, while Jew-bashing is seen as normal, and given a pass.

The last section belongs to the untouchables, the Klan lovers, the high-rise racists, or what Ego Trip calls “The Grand Dragon Wing.” The characters in this section are the worst of the worst, yet it should be said that this type of racist and anti-Semitic language was rampant in the past. I would guess that it’s still used, but behind closed doors and usually not taped. The person, or lady of you want to call her that, I want to focus on is the ex-Cincinnati Reds team owner, Marge Schott. Ego Trip described her best as the “fat-guy-in-a-dress” looking, beer chugging, and full on racist, bigot, and all around equal opportunity hater.

Marge Schott was a trailblazer in so many ways, as she was the third woman to own a major league baseball team, and the second woman to purchase the team as opposed to inheriting the team. She bought the team, and was named its president and CEO in 1985, and five years later the Reds won the World Series. She was very visible, strolling the stadium during the games with her dog. She also made sure to keep the concession and seat prices low so that the average working class family could attend a game. But, large Marge had quite a tongue when it came to her vitriol. According to many sources, including the Ego Trip book, She said that “I would never hire a nigger” and she referred to outfielder Eric Davis as her “million dollar nigger.” She made plenty more remarks about Asians and Jews, as she proudly owned a Nazi armband, zeig heil!

Major League Baseball saw her as a thorn, but it took them some time to act. She became owner of the team in 1985, and she wasn’t getting any real heat until a decade later. In 1993 they banned her from day-to-day operations and was fined $25,000. However, the stinging words of Ms. Marge didn’t end with this because in May of 1996 she made statements sounding favorable to Adolf Hitler. She said that he “was a good beginning, but went too far.” The MLB came out again and banned her a second time through the 1998 season. But, she didn’t stop as she was quoted a month later in Sports Illustrated speaking in a “cartoonish Japanese accent” while describing her meeting with the prime minister of Japan. The deluge took its toll as she finally agreed to sell her controlling interest in the Reds for $67 Million. Many factors led her to sell the team including her failing health, her facing a third suspension, and an expiring ownership agreement with her partners who planned to oust her. Sterling belongs in this group, not just for his rant but for his legacy of housing discrimination. It should be known that this was the main weapon of whites in California against what they saw as black encroachment. Many historians have written on this, but his actions and practice should be heavily scrutinized as well, including his racist rant.

These are just a few examples of name calling that should open the doors for further dialogue. After hearing interviews and commentaries galore, it seems as if the problem had been solved. Adam Silver banned Sterling, but this shouldn’t be the end at all. We should discuss why is it that African-Americans aren’t part of the system as well. This systemic racism excludes them from any profits, while the main profits go to the owners who are almost all white (big ups to Michael Jordan), and some Jewish. The dialogue should extend further to locker room banter, as well as the use of racial epithets by whites, blacks, and any other race, ethnicity, creed, gender, etc. etc. As I said with the Jewish comments there shouldn’t be any contest for most oppressed, but all groups should get their fair day of justice and freedom. Sports should be the great unifier, not the divider of our nation.