The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on September 29, 1996 · Page 57
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 57

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 29, 1996
Page 57
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KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR Stand tall B , UNO RAGE. NBA legend Kareem , Abdul-Jabbar has seen it in the faces of countless African Americans. "Blind rage at whites is part of the black condition," he says. He calls it a hostility often rooted in ignorance and says that, to overcome it, young blacks "have to understand what they're angry about." Now 49, Abdul-Jabbar has been where they are. For 20 NBA seasons, he was perceived as aloof and sullen. While others were out partying, he'd stay in his hotel room. "I was reading," he says. History books, mostly. And if he looked sullen when he left his room to play ball, maybe it was because these books angered him. In most history texts, he says, blacks are absent or are depicted as "savages who contributed nothing to American life." Abdul-Jabbar's new book, Black Profiles in Courage, was written to correct this view, he says. Eye-opening and disturbing, it details how uncelebrated blacks such as Revolutionary War hero Crispus Attucks and light bulb co-inventor Lewis Latimer overcame dehumanizing racism and helped build America. "I was a history major and an English minor at UCLA," Abdul-Jabbar says. "This is the project I'd have done earlier if I'd lived a normal life." He found writing the book "cathartic" and hopes it will inspire his five children and others. People with no sense of history or pride can turn evil, he says, like the African Americans who beat white trucker Reginald Denny during the Los Angeles riots in 1992. "Watching that racist mob turned my stomach. All those people cheering — I bet you they were not well- educated or registered to vote. They see themselves as castoffs, and all they have to offer is their anger. Education is the only way to get beyond the anger. "A way to gain power is to know your heritage — where your people came from, what their hardships were, what they accomplished. "American blacks are crippled in certain ways," Abdul-Jabbar says. He finds that in the West Indies, where his grandparents lived, education drives the culture. That helps people resist feeling imprisoned by racism, he says. "They don't see the bars. They see the spaces between the bars." MORE ADVICE FROM ABDUL-JABBAR • Be proud: "African Americans helped make this country. It wouldn't be here if not for our labor and sacrifices. If we reject the whole American culture, we reject the contributions our people made." • Prioritize: "Did you give $50 to AIDS research this week, or did you spend it on getting cable channels? Those little tests, those moral decisions, are there for you every day." • Fight for change: "Black kids need to understand they've got a great stake in America." • Rewrite history books: "They're still getting it wrong. It's still white history. It has to be inclusive." • Ignore Louis Farrakhan: "He's part of the problem. He's not part of the solution." • For whites: "Try to understand where blacks have to come from in order to succeed and contribute to society. By learning African- American history, you can at least understand the weight around a black person's neck.... I've spoken to white kids who had no idea blacks had done anything other than welfare fraud, rhythm and blues, and sports." d Abdul-Jabber will write or call one reader who seeks advice on one topic. Write by Oct. 6 to "Straight Talk," P.O. Box 3455, Chicago, HI. 60654 (fax: 312-661-0375; e-mail: Zaskw is an advice columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times Features Syndicate. Abdul-Jabbar, hero to many, lists his own: Estnuico: 16th-century explorer who helped "discover" the U.S. Southwest Joseph Clique Led 1839 slave ship revolt, then won freedom in court for other slaves onboard. Harriet Tobnin: The "Black Moses" who took slaves to freedom via her Underground Railroad. tot Reeves: Heroic U.S. deputy marshal out West In the 1880s. EDITOR, PRESIDENT & CEO: Marela Bullard • PUBLISHER: Chart** GabrWson e CWXOHIMUUWOKUB.X VICE PRESIDENTS: Sue Agrwta, Dave Barber, BUI CoaKley, Carol Kwnw-Odgls, Beth Uwwwe, Toboy Lyden, Thoma* M«l*el H'M'Mf'ff Executh* Editor: Amy Eisman Senior Auodatt Editor*: Dan Olmsted, Brenda Turner A»*oclat« Editor*: Carol Qurman, Constance Kurz, Lome Lynch, Kathleen McCleaiy, Jim Sexton Copy Ctilrt Tom Lent Copy Editor Terry Davidson Byrne Mriw A Difference DoyEdttor. Pamela Brown AuMant Editor: Gayte Jo Carter neportw/Ro»««r«hon:MyiDnB.PitU, Richard Vega Rwearchen M. Franco Salvoza T*! i !M'B'l1t!i'l'fJ nllt "" Jean Carper, Roger Cossack, George Foreman, MoniKa Gunman, Florence Griffith Joyner, Stephanie Mansfield, Tom McNichol, Jill Nelson, Tabilha Soren, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, Greta Van Susteren, Jeffrey Zaslow CEB Art Director: Pamela Smith Auistont Art Director* Clay Auch, Abigail McConnell Photo Editor: Sara Elder Techiwtejy Mgr.: Treva Stose Offlcs Staff: Kaw Bond, Monica Dyer Rowe EDKB Director Dierck Casseiman Editorial: Amelia Stephenson, Vm Narayanan Advertising Dean Abbott Casey Shaw 3 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10002 H"lf"""ff"IH li fffif 1000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22229-0012 $ USA WEEKEND l-BOO-487-2956 MnMhilMUSA USA WEEKEND Online this week: Hey, Nintendo-heads! Put down the joystick and pick up the mouse: We've lined up an expert on the new Nintendo 64 game system (story, Page 14) to answer your questions in a live event at our site on America Online. For details, go to keyword: Chat Spot. Find your favorite USA WEEKEND features and more on America Online. To subscribe: Call 1-800-843-6800. Ask for USA WEEKEND. 18 USA WEEKEND • Sept. 27-2V, 1W6

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