New York Daily Sun - The Trusted New York Daily Broadsheet » Latest Articles New York’s Daily Newspaper Reporting News, Sport, Politics, Finance, Fashion, Features and Scandal. Thu, 16 Oct 2014 08:39:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Jason Collins: The Great Black Hope Thu, 02 May 2013 09:14:04 +0000 admin The professional sports world has been waiting for a Jason Collins moment— a gay athlete currently playing in a major league to come out publicly.  What you may not know is that the subtext is that it was hoped the moment would star an African American male.

Written by Reverend Irene Monroe

The African American community, let alone the sports world, desperately needed an openly gay current male professional player.

Collins, who deliberately wore the jersey number, “98,” to honor slain gay student Matthew Shepard during the 2012 – 13 NBA season, is a 7′ 0″ center for the Washington Wizards, a former Boston Celtics, and is also African American. Closeted for all of his professional playing life, until now, Collins told “Sports Illustrated,” why he finally came out.

“I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy….I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore.”

LGBTQ athletes must constantly monitor how they are being perceived by teammates, coaches, endorsers and the media in order to avoid suspicion. They are expected to maintain a public silence and decorum so that their identity does not tarnish the rest of the team.

In what will now hopefully become the last closet where LGBTQ hide their sexual orientation, thanks to Collins, the sports world’s hyper-masculine and testosterone-driven milieu might actually begin to loosen its homophobic hold, especially among black athletes?

Doc Rivers, coach of the Boston Celtics and African American, is revered among black athletes. Having coached Collins for 32 games before Collins was traded to the Washington Wizard; Doc Rivers remarks help spread a message of acceptance.

“I’m really proud of Jason. He still can play. He’ll be active in our league, I hope, and we can get by this— get past this. I think it would be terrific for the league. More than anything, it would just be terrific for mankind, my gosh.”

In terms of when and how you come out personally, timing is everything. So too, in coming out professionally.

The statement, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay” by Collins in the  May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated is as momentous as when renown comedienne Ellen DeGeneres’ quote “Yep, I’m Gay” appeared on the cover of the April 14, 1997 issue of “Time Magazine.”

Although the time span between the two statements is 16 years, and many more advances and civil rights have been afforded to us lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Americans, we now see we’re still a nation grappling with the issue.

While both Collins and DeGeneres give a public face and personal testimonies of their struggle of being closeted about their sexual orientation, their messages reaches and resonates within only certain pockets of the American population and not others. And within those pockets of the American populace, the reprisal and applause they also receive for coming out still fracture alone several fault lines, with profession being one of them.

When Ellen so boldly came out in 1997 she received a torrent of praises from the LGBTQ community and our allies. But “her career puttered and stalled out for the three years following her coming out,” and her impact did little for both the world of sports and for many-straight and LGBTQ- in the African American community in understanding the deleterious effects of homophobia. (It was still being argued, as now, in many African American communities that homosexuality is a “white disease” and not a civil rights.

In the sports world most women athletes, even today, are assumed to either be lesbians and/ or unfeminine. For example, in many African American communities Olympic basketball player Lisa Leslie was perceived to be a “girly- girly;” therefore, not a lesbian, but certainly a weak and non-aggressive player. Tennis phenoms the William Sisters are aggressive players but too muscular, especially Serena, to be seen as feminine.

LBT women in professional sports have come out of the closet while playing, at least, two decades before the “Jason Collins watershed moment.”

While race plays a factor in the African American community coming to grips with its homophobia, especially in the world of sports, so, too, does gender.

Case in point: Just last month, Brittney Griner, also an African American like Collins, is a 6-foot-8, three-time All-America center and was the number one pick in the WNBA draft announced she was a lesbian. It wasn’t considered a big news story.

In 1997, a pregnant Sheryl Swoopes— three-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time MVP of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA)— promoting a heterosexual face for the WNBA was the cover-girl for the premiere issue of “Sports Illustrated Women.” At the time Swoopes was married to her male high school sweetheart. That was considered a big news story. But so too in 2005, when Swoopes came out as a lesbian, becoming the second in the WNBA, and endorsed the lesbian travel company “Olivia.”  She was at the time partnered with Alisa Scott, an assistant coach for the Houston Comets that Sheryl played for from 1997- -2007. And in 2011, it was another big new story because she was with a male.

To incurable homophobes, especially of the fundamentalist Christian variety type, who peddle their “nurture vs. nature” rhetoric that homosexuality is curable with reparative therapies, they saw Swoops as the prodigal daughter who had finally found her way home to Jesus.

Many of my heterosexual African American brothers, Chris Unclesho, the man Swoopes was then engaged to marry, was the MAN! A bona fide “dyke whisperer” who had turned Swoopes out to the sexual joys of what it is to be with a man.

But long before Swoopes, Griner and Collins, both tennis greats Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova came out in 1981.

Martina was publicly taunted for not only being a lesbian but for also not bringing femininity and beauty to her game. Her muscular physique and supposedly masculine appearance killed not only sponsor endorsements but also attempted to kill her spirit in playing the game.

With the sports world celebrating Collins news, Navratilova has joined in voicing her joy in an op-ed she wrote for

“Now that Jason Collins has come out, he is the proverbial game-changer. One of the last bastions of homophobia has been challenged. How many LGBT kids, once closeted, are now more likely to pursue a team sport and won’t be scared away by a straight culture? Collins has led the way to freedom. Yes, freedom— because that closet is completely and utterly suffocating. It’s only when you come out that you can breathe properly.”

Navratilova is correct in stating that Collins is a “game-changer,” because he stands on all the LGBTQ shoulders in sports before him.

Truth be told, Collins is not the first professional gay or black athlete to come out. He’s not even the first professional athlete to come out while playing.

But in a sports world that has become overwhelming shaped by African American male players and masculinity, Collins coming out celebration has everything to do with timing, gender, race and many more straight brothers embracing their gay brethren.

Author Bio

A native of Brooklyn, Irene is a graduate from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church before coming to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as Ford Fellow. She writes The Religion Thang, for In Newsweekly, now called New England Blade, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender newspaper in the New England, Faith Matters for The Advocate Magazine, The Bilerico Project, Black Commentator, and Queer Take, for The Witness, a progressive Episcopalian journal, and Black Commentator.

As a nationally renowned African-American lesbian activist, scholar and public theologian, her writings have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Bay State BannerCambridge Chronicle, and Metro News. Her award-winning essay “Louis Farrakhan’s Ministry of Misogyny and Homophobia” was greeted with critical acclaim. She has also been profiled in OOprah Magazine, and recently CNNs Paula Zahn Now, and “CNN Headline News.”

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Five Strategies for The U.S. in Syria Mon, 29 Apr 2013 14:59:50 +0000 admin WASHINGTON  In the western media’s telling, the civil war in Syria began and continues as a morality play, good versus evil, and for good reason.  The regime headed for nearly a decade and a half by Bashar al-Assad has pursued policies of extreme brutality, including large-scale executions of rebellious groups’ women and children.  But could this tale end in a tragedy of unintended consequences?  What should America do?

Written By Stanley A. Weiss

The West has focused on why the regime should fall.  In addition to its record of human rights abuse, the Assad alliance with Iran gives ample motivation for Europe and the United States to want Syria under new management.  So after a seemingly interminable period of vacillation, the Obama administration has joined other western powers in supplying selected Syrian rebel groups.

Rebels now control parts of the capital, Damascus, itself.  Pitched but inconclusive battles have been fought for other cities.  Media coverage all but assumes that the armed opposition will eventually win, perhaps by year’s end.  But will it, and if it does, what then?

The “will it” question is not a small one.  On one hand the Assad-Iranian partnership has given the dictator and his supporters a vital source for its own supplies.  Troops loyal to Mr. Assad will not run out of guns, ammunition, fuel, food or other essentials of war fighting anytime soon, despite global embargoes.

Equally critical, a number of groups within the country remain fiercely loyal to the government.  The list extends far beyond members of Assad’s Shi’ite-related Alawite sect and his Ba’ath Party, first cousins to Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Ba’athists.

For in a country that is seventy percent Sunni Muslim, the backers of the regime that Mr. Assad’s father – Hafez al-Assad – put in place in 1970 can best be described as the coalition of everyone else: Alawites, yes, but also other Shi’ites, Christians, Druze and any other sect not part of the Sunni majority.  In the eyes of these groups, Assad is a protector, having long maintained order, respected property, permitted diversity and protected religious freedom.

Further, as one Alawite man told a reporter recently, if only because of Assad’s bloody record, “I am sure there will be massacres [of Alawites]; the regime made us [everyone else’s] enemies over the past two years.”  He had good reason to worry.  Syria’s vast displaced population – now estimated at fifteen percent of the country – gives a good measure of the extent of the regime’s assaults on its own people.

If the fear of score settling were not enough, the increasing radicalism of the rebels is a galvanizing worry, too.  As the same Alawite man also said, he was determined “to fight Wahhai radicals who will force my wife and daughters to wear the veil and will close all the wine shops.”

Much has been written regarding western worries about the al-Qaeda and other jihadists’ role within the ever-shifting ranks of the insurrection.  The rebel umbrella group formed last November, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, now recognized in the West as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, has announced a goal that the global democracies embrace, formation of a “democratic, civil, pluralistic, strong and stable state.”  But will the secularists behind that goal prevail in the power struggles that will inevitably follow victory?  One astute British observer recently wrote that many have long regarded it as “evident that Saudi money and influence would dominate the secular opposition, and that the Salafists and al-Qaeda would fight more brutally and emerge on top.”

With all the talk in Washington of what we do now in Syria, there is much too little talk of what we do next.  How many times will we wade into one of these imbroglios without asking, what about the Second Act?

In Iraq we overthrew Saddam Hussein.  Now the regime we installed is more or less aligned with Iran.

In Afghanistan we are still fighting, a decade after we defeated the Taliban.  Will the Karzai government be our ally after we leave?  Is it even now?  Will the Taliban return to power as soon as we are gone?

There is nothing complicated about our goal in Syria: a friendly or neutral country, neither allied with Iran nor a haven for jihadists, where minorities and the majority enjoy the same rights and security.  Here are five strategies for getting there:

Strategy #1: Harbor no illusions about which players serve our interests.  Give them significant support, with this unambiguous proviso, that they work with us in fighting both the jihadist and all allies of Iran, not just the regime.

Strategy #2: Remember in the Middle East betrayal is a sport.  Be ready to reward and punish.   In that part of the world, making clear that actions have consequences is respected – even more, letting bad actions have no consequences is despised.  So when the friend moves back to us, welcome him into the fold, but let him know he is on probation.

Strategy #3: Also remember that friends will be defined by tribal as well as religious affiliations. Tribal loyalties can cross sectarian lines, with some tribes split between Shi’ites and Sunnis.  Long-standing rivalries and vendettas will play a role in who our allies are – with “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” rule more than political or religious ideology often determining who cooperates with us.  We need to pay much more attention to alliance building with tribes.

Strategy #4: Exert maximum pressure on the Saudis to stop the flow of aid to radicals in the rebel movement.  If the Saudis want to help bring down Assad, tell them to use their agents and funds to disrupt Iranian support for the regime.

Strategy #5: Listen to our non-Syrian allies in the region: Israelis, Turks and non-Hezbollah Lebanese. Determine in particular whom in Syria they trust and how to best engage with those elements.

Does this sound familiar?  It is Chicago politics writ large, something the president and his team well understand.  It has won Team Obama two elections at home.  Now it can make America a winner in this critical contest overseas.

Author Bio

Stanley Weiss is founding chairman of Business Executives for National Security (a non-partisan organization of senior executives who contribute their expertise in the best practices of business to strengthening national security).

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Chechnya – Headscarves, Not Babushkas. Mon, 29 Apr 2013 14:34:38 +0000 admin This is not your grandmothers Russia, Islamist Chechen soldiers are joining with Al Qaeda all over the Middle East and can be found across vast areas; from civil wars in Northern African to rebel camps in Syria, and now Boston, Massachusetts.

A slender bronze statue of Medea, the Greek goddess of rage, holding up Jason’s Golden Fleece was unveiled in the Black Sea city of Batumi. Medea is a fitting patron for the Caucasus region which has been raging war for centuries.  This seaport allowed fighters and supplies to transit into Chechnya; rejecting Russian demands to stop.

Written by Darlene Casella

Chechnya lies between the Black and the Caspian Seas. Russian Tzar Nicholas I led a successful invasion into the Caucasus regions. Citizens speak Kakh, not Russian. The clan society is 95% Salafi/Shafi Muslim. The national anthem is Death or Freedom.  During WWII they were Nazi Collaborators. In the 1980’s thousands joined the Mujahedeen with Osama Bin Laden.  When Russia left Afghanistan the Chechen rebels took all weapons, bombs, and chemicals.

Rebellions and two brutal wars for independence, claimed thousands of lives.  Massacre in the town of Samashki, which the United Nations claims ended in the death of more than 100 civililians, did not remove the Russian rule which Chechens resent. Shamil Salmanovich Basayev was a militant Islamist leader of the Chechen rebel movement. Basayev launched mass hostage takings of civilians, the assault on the Beslan elementary school which killed 300 people, mostly children; and was responsible for numerous attacks including the 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis, and was one of the most wanted terrorists in the world until 2006 when he was killed by an accidental explosion.

Many rebel fighters in Syria and in the Al Qaeda wars in Africa are Chechens.  Tarek Mehanna, a Sudbury Massachusetts pharmacist and US citizen, was convicted of conspiring to kill American soldiers and to radicalize others.  He cited Chechnya first in his list reasons that made him a jihadi.  Jose Padilla, a New York US citizen was convicted of aiding terrorists in plotting to detonate a dirty bomb in the United States.  His co conspirator Mohammed Elzahabi was a Boston cab driver who had fought in Chechnya.

Grozny is the capital of Chechnya.  President Ramzan Kadyrov imposes a “virtue campaign” of Islamic law.  Women appearing to be out of compliance with the strict dress code are physically attacked and harassed by the Sufi tarikats, religious brotherhood.    One young girl lost an eye, paint ball guns are shot at non compliant women from moving cars.   While most Chechens live in deep poverty, the extravagant lifestyle of President Kadyrov is made possible from the largess of Vladimir Putin. Unemployment is 55% – 85% in some areas.

The beautiful island of Cyprus has the Greek Goddess patron Aphrodite, goddess of love.  The Caucasus has the Greek patron Medea, goddess of rage. The misogynist Euripides, wrote the Greek Tragedy Medea about irreconcilable differences, and the inability to compromise. It is a dark play filled with death and destruction, where everyone loses everything. This could be eerily true of Chechnya today.

Author Bio

Darlene Casella is a freelance writer, former English teacher, stockbroker, owner/President of a small corporation.  She and her husband live in La Quinta, California.  She can be reached at

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