Friday, August 29, 2014

Miscellaneous: Katrina and Hip-Hop

The storm season of 2005 turned out to be historical.

The costliest disaster in U.S. History affected the deep south and the city of New Orleans in particular. 

Its name? Hurricane Katrina. Katrina claimed over 1,800 lives and over $100 billion dollars in property damage. 

The city of New Orleans became 80% flooded nine years ago today on August 29, 2005, just six days after Katrina made its initial landfall.




Over 1,500 of the over 1,800 lives claimed in the wreckage were New Orleans residents, 93% of those killed were African-American.

What caused the massive flooding was the one of worst engineering failures in U.S. History, the levee system put in place by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.




Katrina had residents using home appliances and other items to stay above water as if they were lifeboats from the Titanic wreckage in the North Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane Katrina also had residents dying from starvation and exhaustion among other things.




In a city that produced rappers Lil Wayne, B.G., Birdman, Lil Boosie and Curren$y to name a few, it wad a fellow artist and non-NOLA resident, Kanye West that spoke little but garnered tons of attention.

Just one comment. A nationally televised comment during the concert for a Hurricane Relief effort. . .

"George Bush doesn't care about black people."


Kanye West had a point. Though it conveyed that George Bush was simply a racist.

As said, 93% of the New Orleans residents killed by Hurricane Katrina were African-American, no shade to anyone of another ethnic background that was fatally affected by this disaster. 






What sparked the comment was Bush's and other politician's failure to provide timely aid to residents. It took days-to-weeks. This resulted in the resignation of then director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown. The people who oversaw residents' sheltering in the Superdome were also criticized for their treatment of storm survivors.

The government was heavily unprepared.






Though Hurricane Katrina was the subject of a few films, books and documentaries, Kanye West's comment prompted the release of one of the more politically charged protest songs ever. Entitled "George Bush Doesn't Care about Black People.", the hip-hop duo The Legendary K.O. further expressed Mr. West's controversial comment.


But now, some nine years later, New Orleans smaller but re-growing. It's bouncing back. Forward motion with the rebuilding effort is what I'm wishing upon the city.

Monday, August 18, 2014

History: August 18th, 1963: James Meredith

As an African-American student that attends a Predominantly White Institution I'm forever indebted to former students whom laid the foundation; the ground in which I and others now tread over today as scholars. So amid everything that has been going on in Ferguson, Missouri great things happened on this day. No not THIS day, I'm talking August 18th, 1963, in particular, James Meredith who on the aforementioned date graduated from the University of Mississippi. Meredith, a writer and politician, broke the racial divide in the deep-south and accorded significant status in US history.

His journey began after high school when he spent time serving his country in the military; a nine-year US Air Force veteran was Meredith. Afterwards, Meredith enrolled in all-black Jackson State College. Meredith felt he deserved much more than that. He wanted to make a change, the change he had in mind would sound crazy if he had told anyone his plans but it would also be one of bravery and courage. He felt as if he could embody the lines "ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. . . ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." spoken by president at the time, John F. Kennedy.

He decided to try his luck at the historically white University of Mississippi a feat Meredith seen as attainable. Meredith was obviously qualified for admittance; the one problem was the most prevalent one of the time, his race. His admission was subsequently revoked due to the "issue". Meredith was persistent, he didn't give up, he was determined to exercise his Constitutional rights and get what he felt he deserved. He was out to prove that he could do it too; that blacks were not intellectually inferior to others.

So Meredith filed a suit, citing that he was being discriminated against even after the courts handed down the ruling that segregation in schools was unconstitutional and that they needed to be integrated "with all deliberate speed" (Brown v. Board, 1954, Brown II, 1955). The Supreme Court was on Meredith's side and among riots with 500 National Guardsmen backing him, he entered the doors of Ole Miss to become the first black student to enroll on October 1st, 1962. Relying on what got him here in the first place —determination and persistency, amid extreme isolation and harassment, Meredith graduated less than a year later; August 18th, 1963 with a degree in Political Science.





Meredith successfully confronted segregation and made history twice, not only did he enroll, but also graduated. Today many African-American students follow in the footsteps of James Meredith and others like Ed Carson, Manuel Crockett, Irwin Holmes, and Walter Holmes whom became North Carolina State University's first four African-American undergrads, making history a few years before Meredith did.

Irwin Holmes earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, making him the first African-American undergraduate to receive a degree at NC State.
Whenever it was done, however it was done, Meredith and others were courageous, persistent and brave enough to make it possible that African-Americans can too receive a higher education at Predominantly White Institutions.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sports: Not too early for some NFL Awards, right?

So, as the ever-boring, halfway irrelevant, useless NFL Preseason continues, we die-hard football fans are looking forward to when our starting quarterbacks play the whole game (barring injury), also known as the Regular Season. As I mentioned before in a previous post, it begins with a rematch of the controversial 2012 game in which Seattle won in the closing seconds of the game via a questionable Golden Tate TD catch (shoutout to all the replacement refs that year, you guys gave it your best.....effort).

I don't care if the regular season is still three weeks away, here's my award predictions for this upcoming NFL season.

READ: Early NFL Power Rankings

NFL MVP

It's so easy to allow Peyton to put on his best Michael Jordan impression and win this award for a sixth-time, right? I mean, how could you go wrong with a guy who told Tom Brady to give him his single-season TD record up in impressive fashion while setting a plethora of other records, right? How could you be so dumb to put the odds against the man who returns basically his entire offense -- well, Emmanuel Sanders isn't Eric Decker and Montee Ball, maybe he'll be fine. Anyway, I'm going to be the dissenting judge in this Supreme Court of Football and go with another quarterback -- Drew Brees. I wanted to pick my quarterback, Tom Brady so bad. This hurt me. 




Though Brees has won two NFL Offensive Player of the year awards, he's yet to own a MVP. The gunslinging Brees has thrown for over 5,000 yards each of the last three seasons. No quarterback has topped Brees' production over those years. Brees gets his respect this year behind the force of added weapons to his arsenal. Everybody gets love over there in New Orleans, and studded rookie Brandin Cooks will be no exception. Retaining All-Pro Tight End Jimmy Graham will be noted as another welcomed presence on Brees' quest to add another piece of hardware to his collection.

Honorable Mentions: Peyton Manning, Jamaal Charles, Tom Brady, Lesean McCoy, Aaron Rodgers, and Calvin Johnson you can be on this list too, just because.

Coach of the Year

This was a tough one. When I decided I took into consideration two things: The first; this award might go to the team who's Coach "caused" a huge turnaround, or maybe best record. I struggled with myself and later doubted the latter. Secondly, the Bucs are going to be scary good this year. So this year's Coach of the Year Award will go to Lovie Smith, Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.



Lovie's a coach whom always gets the best out of his players, the classic epitome of a "player's coach". An already winner of this award, Lovie Smith is the head man of a very scary defense led by Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David. Doug Martin is healthy and if he becomes his rookie self again (which is likely), he can take the pressure off of new quarterback Josh McCown and help him properly steer the ship over in Tampa. All of this will culminate in Lovie Smith being crowned as the season's best coach. The NFC South will be one to watch all season, all four teams are capable of being very impressive believe it or not.

Honorable Mentions: Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, Bill Belichick, Jeff Fisher, Jim Caldwell, Bill O'Brien, John Fox, one of the Harbaughs (just had to throw them in)

Offensive Player of the Year

This...award...is...wide...open -- as if it isn't every year. Usually this award takes on a different meaning than that of the MVP. It usually means the player who simply just put up the most impressive statistical numbers will win this award, duh right? Well, just as his counterpart Peyton Manning did last season, Drew Brees will double up. I think this award will belong to a Wide Receiver this year. No wideout his graced this award since Jerry Rice captured his second in 1993. Bold prediction right? Well that's what these are all about! If I had to choose it would be Calvin Johnson.



I think we'll see a similar 2012 Calvin Johnson where he almost amassed 2,000 receiving yards. Yeah maybe he was robbed of OPOY that year, but then again he only saw the end zone five times. That is a total plot twist, right? So yeah, Calvin Johnson, similar 2012 yards with 2013 touchdowns. Dude, that would be amazing to say the least, I could well be reaching here.

I have a dark horse for the award, though, Andrew Luck. Just watch out for him.

Honorable Mentions: AJ Green, LeSean McCoy, Drew Brees, Jamaal Charles, Peyton Manning

Defensive Player of the Year

I'll go with Von Miller here though JJ Watt just seems like a more obvious choice. I'll say Miller simply because of the chip he'll now have on his shoulder. His 2013 season was completely ruined by injury and suspension but this is his year of retribution to everyone; this time he'll be punishing the league. The sack artist will be entering his prime years and that is a scary sight for quarterbacks plus everyone else on the offensive side of the ball. He will definitely be motivated to strike back this upcoming season. I'm excited to see what he's going to do in this new look Denver Broncos defense.




Honorable Mentions: JJ Watt, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Robert Quinn, Earl Thomas

Comeback Player of the Year

With a new offense that features a few new and improved weapons on offense backed by a more reliable offensive line, Eli Manning is poised to rebound from an AWFUL 2013 season and that is being nice. That's an agreeable fact that Eli was terrible last season. Watch out though, I think he'll flip his TD-to-INT ratio but with a couple less interceptions, along the lines of 27-29 TDs and 11-13 INTs.



Not bad Eli, it's highly attainable for this guy.

Honorable Mentions: Julio Jones, Robert Griffin III, Von Miller

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Sammy Watkins was not drafted top 5 on the basis that he'll make little impact. He'll shine in Buffalo from day one in Doug Marrone's offense. What he is capable of will aid a sophomore jump for quarterback EJ Manuel and they will develop into a dangerous QB-WR duo.

 


I dislike the Bills as a Patriots fan, but as a football fan first, the possibility of Sammy Watkins becoming a star off-rip are very likely. This speaks danger for the AFC East and the rest of the league.

Honorable Mentions: Brandin Cooks, Johnny Manziel, Bishop Sankey, Kelvin Benjamin

Defensive Rookie of the Year

This year is the year of the rookie linebacker. Four names stick out to me, Jadeveon Clowney, Anthony Barr, CJ Mosley, and Khalil Mack. I'll have to go with Jadeveon Clowney here, the first pick in this year's draft.




Clowney will have the luxury of playing alongside former AP Defensive Player of the Year, JJ Watt. What we've seen Jadeveon Clowney do in college will hopefully translate into NFL success. JJ Watt is going to be his same dominant self, he's going to get his. Clowney will be the main beneficiary Watt's success in terrorizing NFL backfields. Scary combo to say the least.

Honorable Mentions: Anthony Barr, Khalil Mack, CJ Mosley, Justin Gilbert, Calvin Pryor, Jimmie Ward, Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix

Things to watch out for. . .

  • How will Cam Newton perform without Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell catching passes from him?

  • The Rookie Quarterback Questionaire: How soon will the Jacksonville Jaguars throw rookie quarterback Blake Bortles into the fire? Bridgewater in Minnesota? Will Manziel start day one? Did we all forget about Derek Carr and his chances to play early?

  • 2000 yard rusher?


  • Can Peyton Manning duplicate 2013?

  • The NFC South, West, and East four-team battle



  • The AFC West

  • Brady's receivers have another year in the offense, will we see regular Tom Brady numbers again?

  • Are the injuries behind Robert Griffin III?

  • The 100million dollar question to the newly paid quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton: Can they prove that they are truly worth so much dough?



I'll be back soon with more things on the NFL and the world of sports. Man I love 'em.



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