Archive for the ‘Track & Field’ Category

The Lighter Side of Black

Friday, September 14th, 2012

By Maggie Mangiel




One of the most prevalent but unspoken of issues in the black community, in any part of the world, is colorsim.  Even in a day-to-day conversation, we seem unable to escape color references such as, “I’m sure you know Nikki, the tall light-skinned girl”, or, “look at that boy; he’s so dark, he is midnight blue”.  We have been demanding for years that the white community acknowledge, address, and terminate racism, but if we continue to point out the differences in our shades of blackness, how do we expect them to overlook it?  To make matters worse, some of us commit a truly horrific act.  So called “lightening creams” have created one of the most atrocious epidemics encountered by the black community since slavery; bleaching our skin in an unsuccessful attempt to conform to the “norm”.  Whose norm exactly?  In a recent article written  by a New York Times journalist on the issue; he quoted one of the men interviewed, “you have to change yourself, dilute yourself in order to fit into the Western norm and live in White America”.  So in order to succeed, one has to look the part.  This is the message some black celebrities seem to be projecting.  In 1999, North America was mesmerized and captivated as we all watched the home-run record race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire play out.  I was on team Sosa and even got the jersey to prove it.  There was immense support for Sosa, not only from Chicago Cubs fans, but also from African Americans who didn’t even follow baseball.  An athletic brother with a Latin spice, can’t go wrong with that.  Then two years ago, pictures of a lighter skinned Sosa surfaced and I was wondering many things, but first was “how?”  Apparently, Sosa has undergone a skin-lighting treatment.  Well I was flabbergasted.  What would compel a successful role model to do such a thing?  He is in the spotlight; hell, he is in the record books.  His name has been immortalized.  I felt so ashamed and let down by someone I once idolized.  However, Sosa is not the first black person to do so.  Many other black celebrities, Michael Jackson not included, have been accused of doing it, from Roberta Flack, the Jacksons (Latoya and Janet), to Rihanna and Beyonce.  Many celebrities do it so they can be more acceptable to White America, therefore having more marketability, resulting in an increase in income. 

During the pre-Olympics campaign, US hurdler Lolo Jones was front and center as the face of the US Track and Field team, even though Dawn Harper, the reigning world champion in that discipline, is also an American.  But why was Harper commercially neglected in favor of a less accomplished athlete?  Was it for Ms. Jones’ closer to European features and olive skin color?  We can blame the media for favoring the lighter over the dark all we want, but the ugly truth is; it is not just White America who like it “light”.  The Black community is more than culpable.  Not long ago, HBO released a documentary about the Ali-Frazier saga.  Some of the people interviewed have admitted that one of the reasons Black America was on Ali’s side was the fact that he was the lighter complexioned fighter.  “He was prettier,” they said, and Ali himself, kept re-enforcing that notion by referring to Frazier as a “gorilla”, a “big ugly bear”, and saying things such as; “we can’t let the Asians think that brothers look like that”, even though Frazier’s physical attributes had no merit nor bearing on the sport of boxing.  I do not have to go as far back as the 1970’s to cement this fact.  In the recent history of Hollywood, Pop, and Hip-Hop cultures, the lack of women of darker complexion has been noticeable in those arenas and we would only see them in roles such  as slaves, overweight maids, prison inmates, “crack-whores”, and so on.  None of the women of darker complexion are given a chance at the glamorous roles which portray beauty.  Many rappers for example, including Kanye West, have declared that they prefer women of mixed races, hence lighter complexion as models in their videos.  Since the targeted demographic for Hip-Hop music is predominately African American, it leaves us with one conclusion; we like it “diluted”. 

Last year, a close relative of mine was gazing through my modelling portfolio and said, and I quote verbatim, “why don’t you use some lightening creams like ‘Fair and Lovely’?  Your pictures would look so much better and that would help your career.  You know magazines don’t like dark women.”  So hearing that I was wondering, were the likes of Rihanna right in choosing magazine covers and higher record sales over their own skin color?  Is bleaching the route to follow in one’s journey toward success?  Or am I being too self-righteous for thinking that what they did cannot be justified?  Should the Black youth listen to the lyrics of Vybz Kartel urging them to use the “Cake Soap”?  Is “fair” really “lovely” and should my sisters shed their skin to be considered attractive and marketable?  My answer to all of these question is a resounding N-O!.  It is time we faced this problem head on, shed the self-hatred, and say enough is enough.  I will stand up and may my sisters and brothers help me shout it to the heavens, “I’m black, I’m dark, and I’m beautiful”!


Maggie Mangiel, Fitness Model & Personal Trainer, for War Room Sports

Love and Basketball (and Track Too)

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

2000 Olympic Games

I would like to shed some light on the disgraced former track star and Olympic Gold medalist Marion

Press Conference after Guilty Plea

Jones. As we all may remember, Marion Jones won 5 Medals in the 2000 Sydney, Australia Olympics and became known as the fastest woman on the planet. After her ex husband, track star CJ Hunter and her ex boyfriend and father of her son track star Tim Montgomery were tied to performance enhancing drug use while they were with Jones and her ties to Victor Conte and BALCO, all signs pointed to her being guilty of steroid use. Recently, Marion Jones has been in the news for serving 6 months in prison from March 2008 to September 2008 for lying to a federal grand jury about her steroid use and for pleading guilty to a check fraud scandal with the aforementioned Tim Montgomery. In 2007, she married sprinter and Olympic medalist Obadale Thompson who is from Barbados and they have two children together.

What many people may not know is that Marion Jones once scored 48 points in a high school basketball game while growing up in Southern California and led the University of North Carolina to the 1994 NCAA Championship as a starting freshman Point Guard.

UNC Women's basketball

She had to make the decision between track and basketball and eventually decided to pursue track full-time and graduated from UNC in 1997. While a professional track star she was even drafted by the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA in 2003. After being banned from Olympic competition and having the majority of her medals taken away, she decided to try her hand at basketball again at the ripe age of 34 this past year. She played for the Tulsa Shock this season and averaged 3pts and 2rebs in 9 minutes a game shooting 52% from the field. In the last 3 games of the season she averaged 11pts, 6 rebs, and 2 stls while playing 22 minutes a game and shooting 57% from the field. With increased playing time is it possible we could see Marion Jones playing in a WNBA all star game one day?

Press Conference with Tulsa Shock

During the WNBA offseason Marion Jones has been on a Book Tour for her new book “On the Right Track” and has been conducting interviews. Famous director John Singleton recently did a documentary on Jones titled “Press Pause” detailing the journey of Marion Jones’ rise to stardom and recent legal troubles. In regards to Marion Jones being a black female who has served time for her involvement with steroids and lying about it while no one else has served time. Singleton stated:

“Come on now, it’s just common sense — nothing’s going to happen to any of those guys. Those players will not see the inside of a jail cell. They don’t want to open up a can of worms – be it the IOC, NFL or MLB, be it what’s legal or not legal — going back over the last 30 years. They’re only going to go so far with those people and then they’ll let it taper off.”

One excerpt from the book details how Marion Jones spent 23 hours a day in solitary confinement with no TV or computer for 48 days for defending herself against her cell mate, who allegedly attacked her.

While the general public may have written off Marion Jones and label her as a failure, a cheat, a miscreant, or disgrace to her country I look forward to her redeeming herself on the basketball court these next few years and becoming an ambassador of what not to do while speaking around the country.

Marion Jones with the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA

Aquil “Quil” Bayyan of The War Room, For War Room Sports

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Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

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