Do you ever de-valued just because you are a helper?

NBA player LeBron James answers questions duri...
NBA player LeBron James answers questions during a press conference after a preseason practice session Sept. 28, 2010, at the Aderholt Fitness Center at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The Miami Heat used the fitness center for their week-long training camp. James is a forward for the Heat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was in a brief discussion in the Black Nerds Facebook group that started out talking about  rude black women with advanced degrees. Since I work with several black women with advanced degrees, I spoke up. I also noticed a comment in the thread about how worthless it would be to spend $50,000 on a social work degree. I countered by talking about the value of social work in the many places where it is practiced. And my opponent countered with dollars and cents. Helpers in this society are not valued. To which I responded that shows an imbalance in our values.

Why are soldiers risking their lives paid a pittance of what LeBron James receives? Who contributes more to our society? Thousands of people are paying to wear LeBron’s Miami Heat jersey and no one is wearing the dog tags of last week’s wounded soldiers. You cannot buy a Teacher of the Year Bobblehead Doll. Somewhere, everyone has been touched by those of us in the helping professions. We teach, bandage your wounds, talk with you when you despair and comfort the afflicted. We are not STEM but in a lot of ways we provide the stem of life. We are helpers.

This society undervalues women and helpers by paying us less than we deserve. As a man I have tended to join female dominated professions probably because I was often at odds with our nation’s values. Jobs at home not wars abroad, as my cat would say. African-Americans are probably under-represented in the helping professions. When we need social work, therapy or a number of other helpers, we usually have to go to someone of a different background than our own. That’s not bad in and of itself but it helps to know where someone else has been in or to assist them. I hope that we will have veterans becoming therapists. I would like to see a young bright African-American male become inspired to want to become a psychologist. At a time when black people are disappearing from the work force, we need to be getting the tools that college degrees can provide. It’s not just a degree, it’s a whole network of opportunity. Reach out and help your fellow humans.


Stop me before I communicate again

I was a communication wiz at work today and I have Coach Phil Jackson to thank for my success. I remember Phil from when he was a forward with the New York Knicks who were coached by Red Holzman. For one glorious season, the Knicks were the NBA champs. Holzman’s secret: see the ball, hit the open man. They had a lineup filled with team players like Walt Frazier, Dave Debusschere, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley and of course Jackson.

Jackson developed his knowledge of strategy and tactics and went on to become the greatest NBA coach of all time. He wrote a book “Eleven Rings”  about his success. One of the greatest stories was about the year in which the Chicago Bulls, who Jackson was coaching, were going for their third straight championship and they were locked in a tight game with the Phoenix Suns. In the final possession the Bulls passed the ball all across the court, including players like Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan. With one final pass the ball went to John Paxson, and he got nothing but net.

Hearing that story put me in the mindset to say, I don’t care if I just say hello it’s about the team effort for the consumer. And so as we passed the ball at the office we had solid teamwork. So forgive me if I am communicating too much.


I’m holding my wallet

The rich people in Milwaukee have been planning the best way to get my money. They’ve told us ahead of time what matters most to them is a new auditorium for the Milwaukee Bucks (as in hand over my money) will plan in the years ahead.  Some years ago, Lloyd and Jane Pettit donated money to building Bradley Center.  Now that center is considered obsolete and it’s time for me to figure out how much I want to spend to bail out the Bucks (show me the green, Kenyatta).

I’ve only attended one game at the Bradley Center years ago when the team had Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell. All of them were on championship teams after after they were traded away foolishly. Robinson’s son played last night for Michigan in a losing cause against Louisville. That’s how long it has been since we had good players. Allen returned to Milwaukee tonight playing for the Miami Heat who gave Bucks fans all the more reasons to wish the team had kept him.

And now, it’s all about the benjamins. hand over the lettuce, good people for thy duty is to toil and buy any pay to the rich to play. Year ago there was a plan to provide additional funds for public schools but the wealthy defeated it. Rich people used the daily mouthpiece called the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to push a stadium plan through the state legislature (stick it to Milwaukee, as then Gov. Thompson said). Now every time we pay sales taxes a portion goes for the stadium. We can’t get money for public transit, because that would be something we could use. I’d holding my debit card and I’m saying no to rich people and their playgrounds. Why should I pay for mediocre basketball?

Walt Hazzard and My Uncle

vector version of this image
vector version of this image (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Walt Hazzard, former UCLA Bruins  and NBA basketball star, died yesterday at the age of 69. After  his playing career ended he was a successful coach. However he never achieved the status of  the legendary John Wooden for whom he had played.,0,7345670.story?track=rss Hazzard helped Wooden lead the team to his first NCAA championship. In his 4 years of coaching, Hazzard brought the Bruins their first National Invitational Tournament championship. But that wasn’t considered good enough.

I first heard about Hazzard when my uncle played basketball against me using the name of the star player. My uncle was one of the role models for my older sister and me. I sometimes resented his closeness with him. In recent years my uncle left our hometown of Buffalo and built a wonderful home outside Atlanta. He has also become a role model for others, speaking at recovery meetings. When I  learned that fact about about my uncle it made him more human. He was someone who had admitted his faults.

Hazzard struggled, too. He played in the NBA before the big contracts that players have today. His career included playing in Buffalo before that team left town. The article I read about his life talked about how he lived almost 20 years after suffering a stroke. He was married, raised a family and was a devout Muslim. Indeed, he did a lot with his life.

So I am glad I heard about Walt Hazzard who number 42 was retired by UCLA. He aspired to and achieved greatness. Walt Hazzard, presente.