Newsflash:
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 03:20

Michael Sam stands tall

Written by  Rev. Jesse Jackson | The Chicago Sun Times
Michael Sam Michael Sam AP Photo/G.M. Andrews

“I’m a football player, and I’m gay.” With those words, Michael Sam, an All-American defensive end from the University of Missouri, demonstrated courage far beyond that demanded on the football field. And America may, for the first time, witness an openly gay man playing professional football.

“I just want to own my own truth,” said Sam, fully aware of what he risked by standing up. There are no openly gay athletes in the NFL, NBA, NHL or major league baseball.

That’s not to say there are no gay professional athletes. There have always been gays in professional sports, just as there have been in all professions — lawyers, doctors, bricklayers and steelworkers. Some came out of the closet after they retired. Many gays were known, or widely suspected, by teammates but not admitted publicly. When Jerry Smith, a tight end for the Washington Redskins, died of AIDS, some of his teammates served as pallbearers. It was rumored that he was gay when he was playing. His teammates rallied to him, partly because he could play.

Sam has put his career of choice at risk. He’s a 6’2”, 260-pound menace on the football field. He was the Associated Press Player of the Year in the Southeast Conference, considered the elite football conference. He was expected to be drafted high in the early rounds of the draft before the announcement. His announcement will now put the NFL and its owners to the test.

As a path-breaker, Sam will face obstacles. Last week, Jonathan Vilma, a star linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, said openly that he wouldn’t want a gay teammate. The NFL locker room is already known as notoriously tough on rookies. Sam will no doubt face an even harsher introduction.

When African Americans broke into segregated institutions, they knew that they would have to perform better and act better to compete. For Sam to survive in the NFL, he’ll no doubt have to perform better and play better than other rookies.

But he’s been through this before. At the beginning of this season, he told his teammates at Mizzou that he was gay. Many already knew or suspected. The team worked through the problems. Sam dominated on the field. And at the end of the season, they voted him their most valuable player.

Sam is part of a movement for equality that is sweeping all before it. In 2000, Republicans used same-sex marriage as a wedge issue to help win elections. Now, Americans attitudes have been transformed. Same-sex marriage laws have been passed in several states with more to come. On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder issued orders to the Justice Department to recognize the federal rights of legally married same sex couples no matter where they are living. A millennial generation is growing up that scorns those who would discriminate on the basis of whom one chooses to love. Even Pope Francis has asked, “Who am I to judge?” arguing that people “should not be marginalized” because of their sexual orientation and “must be integrated into society.”

But this kind of change doesn’t come on its own. It takes courageous citizens of conscience to stand up. It requires organizing, marching and protests. Lives and careers are put at risk. The most courageous often pay the highest price, as exemplified by Dr. Martin Luther King.

The courage of Michael Sam should be saluted. But we should also stand with him. The NFL, its owners, its coaches and players should understand that it is time to step up. The football field is a level playing field. All play by the same set of rules. There is no place for exclusion or discrimination in professional athletics. Michael Sam asks only to be graded by his performance on the field. And if history is any guide, if he is given a fair shot, he will do just fine.

Original article on The Chicago Sun Times

Read 4458 times

Robin Hood Tax Articles

  • Could This Tax on Wall Street Turn Back America’s Tide of Inequality?
    Could This Tax on Wall Street Turn Back America’s Tide of Inequality?

    How will you honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. this April 4, the anniversary of his assassination? How about by demanding that Congress get out of Wall Street’s pocket? How about by letting your representative know that you support economic equality and a just distribution of wealth in America? As Dr. King himself said, “This is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The question is whether America will do it. There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.”

    Written on Monday, 31 March 2014 23:57 Read more...
  • Targeting Wall Street, Robin Hood Tax Comes to Washington
    Targeting Wall Street, Robin Hood Tax Comes to Washington

    With Congress about to begin the next cycle of budget battles – mostly focused on how much more pain to inflict on Main Street communities across America – a far different message is bubbling up across the land.

    Written on Wednesday, 30 October 2013 23:08 Read more...
  • The Robin Hood Tax
    The Robin Hood Tax

    Simply put, the big idea behind the Robin Hood Tax is to generate hundreds of billions of dollars.  That money could provide funding for jobs to kickstart the economy and get America back on its feet. It could help save the social safety net here and around the world.  And it will come from fairer taxation of the financial sector.

    Written on Friday, 25 October 2013 15:41 Read more...
  • European Commission Approves “Robin Hood” Tax on Financial Transactions
    European Commission Approves “Robin Hood” Tax on Financial Transactions The European Commission yesterday backed plans by 11 European Union economies to impose a “Robin Hood” financial transaction tax, better known as a Tobin tax, to help raise funds to tackle the region’s growing debt crisis.
    Written on Wednesday, 24 October 2012 16:53 Read more...

Does Your Legislator Support the Robin Hood Tax?

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions

MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority

MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab

 

Find Your Elected Officials for Issues

Enter your zip+4 and find your elected officials. This link provides name, address and phone number

ButtonFindElectedOfficials

 

Like Robin Hood Tax on Facebook

The Robin Hood Tax

Robin Hood Tax: John Nichols and Keith Ellison and Michael Lighty

Why The Robin Hood Tax