Ways of Grace: Stories of Activism, Adversity, and How Sports Can Bring Us Together

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Justice on 2018-11-27 02:33Z by Steven

Ways of Grace: Stories of Activism, Adversity, and How Sports Can Bring Us Together

Amistad (an imprint of HarperCollins)
2017-06-27
256 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780062354525
Paperback ISBN: 9780062354532
EPUB ISBN: 9780062354549

James Blake, with Carol Taylor

Inspired by Arthur Ashe’s bestselling memoir Days of Grace, a collection of positive, uplifting stories of seemingly small acts of grace from across the sports world that have helped to bridge cultural and racial divides.

Like many people of color, James Blake has experienced the effects of racism firsthand—publicly—first at the U.S. Open, and then in front of his hotel on a busy Manhattan street, where he was tackled and handcuffed by a police officer in a case of “mistaken identity.” Though rage would have been justified, Blake faced both incidents with dignity and aplomb.

In Ways of Grace he reflects on his experiences and explores those of other sports stars and public figures who have not only overcome adversity, but have used them to unite rather than divide, including:

  • Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, a Pakistani Muslim and Amir Hadad, an Israeli Jew, who despite the conflicts of their countries, paired together in the 2002 Wimbledon men’s doubles draw.
  • Muhammad Ali, who transcended racism with a magnetic personality and a breathtaking mastery of boxing that was unparalleled.
  • Nelson Mandela, who spent twenty-seven years in prison for his commitment to social reform, peace, and equality yet never gave up his battle to end apartheid—a struggle that led to his eventual freedom and his nation’s transition to black majority rule.
  • Groundbreaking tennis legend Arthur Ashe, who was a model of courage, elegance, and poise on the court and off; a gifted player who triumphed in the all-white world of professional tennis, and became one of his generation’s greatest players.

Weaving together these and other poignant and unforgettable stories, Blake reveals how, through seemingly small acts of grace, we can confront hatred, bigotry, and injustice with virtue—and use it to propel ourselves to greater heights.

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Another Win for a Player Getting in Touch With Her Japanese Roots

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive on 2016-01-23 03:22Z by Steven

Another Win for a Player Getting in Touch With Her Japanese Roots

The New York Times
2016-01-21

Ben Rothenberg


Naomi Osaka signed autographs after her 6-4, 6-4 victory over 18th-seeded Elina Svitolina at the Australian Open on Thursday.
Credit Issei Kato/Reuters

MELBOURNE, AustraliaNaomi Osaka (大坂 なおみ) liked to think she had a universal appeal to the crowd that watched her 6-4, 6-4 win over 18th-seeded Elina Svitolina at the Australian Open on Thursday afternoon.

“Maybe it’s because they can’t really pinpoint what I am,” said Osaka, who will play the two-time champion Victoria Azarenka in the third round. “So it’s like anybody can cheer for me.”

Osaka, 18, is coached in the United States by her Haitian-born father, Leonard Francois. She spends little time in her mother’s homeland of Japan, the country she represents in tennis, but received strong support from Japanese fans as she pulled off the upset on Show Court 2.

“I always think that they’re surprised that I’m Japanese,” she said. “So like the fact that there was like Japanese flags and stuff, it was like really touching.”…

Read the entire article here.

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James Blake doesn’t want NYPD cop who tackled him to ‘ever have a badge and gun again’

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2015-09-13 23:38Z by Steven

James Blake doesn’t want NYPD cop who tackled him to ‘ever have a badge and gun again’

The New York Daily News
2015-09-12

Wayne Coffey, Special Reporter

Rich Schapiro, Staff Writer

Retired tennis star James Blake said Saturday the NYPD cop who brutally wrestled him to the ground should be served his walking papers.

“I want him to know what he did was wrong, and that in my opinion he doesn’t deserve to ever have a badge and a gun again, because he doesn’t know how to handle that responsibility effectively,” Blake, 35, told the Daily News. “He doesn’t deserve to have the same title as officers who are doing good work and are really helping keep the rest of the city safe.”

Blake called on the NYPD to can Officer James Frascatore a day after the department released disturbing video showing the WWE-style takedown outside a Midtown hotel Wednesday…

…Blake initially said he believed race was a factor in the rough arrest. But asked Saturday whether he thought white tennis stars such as Andy Roddick or Mardy Fish would have been treated the same way, he demurred.

“I don’t want to say that at all because I think that muddies the issue at hand,” said Blake, who was born to a black father and a white mother. “In this incident it was the excessive force that’s really the issue, because it was a nonviolent crime.”…

Read the entire article here.

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James Blake and the Myth of an Unarrestable Black Man

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2015-09-13 02:40Z by Steven

James Blake and the Myth of an Unarrestable Black Man

The Daily Beast
2015-09-10

Tomás Ríos

Bill Bratton said race ‘had nothing at all to do’ with tennis star James Blake’s wrongful collaring and arrest. The numbers tell a different story.

What does a non-white person have to do for the police to leave them alone? The ready answer is that you have to be more famous than former tennis star James Blake.

Blake was leaving his Midtown Manhattan hotel to make corporate appearances at the U.S. Open when five white, plainclothes New York City police officers tackled and handcuffed him on Wednesday.

The real answer, of course, is that not being white means there is no escape from the consequences of not being white.

Among those who buy into the mythic moral righteousness of our police forces, there is a belief that people of color need only be perfect little humans to cancel out the realities of a racist society. Go to college, smile, pull up your pants, don’t smile at white women, and the prescription for transcending race goes on and on.

It seems not even James Blake—who attended Harvard, overcame scoliosis and a broken neck to become a world-class tennis player, and is now a cancer research philanthropist—can be that perfect. The numbers on incarceration make that much clear…

Read the entire article here.

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Serena Williams, Tiger Woods and racial identity in sports

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-09-11 20:55Z by Steven

Serena Williams, Tiger Woods and racial identity in sports

ESPN
2015-09-05

Mike Wise, Senior Writer

Mike Wise writes that Serena Williams has embraced her blackness and found a spiritual home while Tiger Woods has been proudly biracial and found a perhaps unintended kind of isolation

You can’t miss the term “black excellence” pulsating through Claudia Rankine’s provocative story on Serena Williams in last week’s New York Times magazine. Though Serena never goes there herself, the acclaimed poet and professor takes the journey for her, living vicariously through Serena’s sass and brass. “Serena’s grace comes because she won’t be forced into stillness; she won’t accept those racist projections onto her body without speaking back.”

Rankine’s affection for Serena’s defiance is so deeply personal, she almost channels John Carlos and Tommie Smith, raising their black-gloved fists into a Mexico City summer night some five decades ago.

Step off, backward white folk.

Between black excellence and her picture next to the Twitter hashtag #BlackGirlMagic, Serena is clearly playing for more than herself and history at the US Open this week.

Meanwhile, a term not found with a Google search: “Cablanasian excellence.”

This is possibly because Tiger Woods has not won a major since the Bush administration, and he has been careful not to singularly co-opt any one part of his multiracial identity (African-American, Thai, Caucasian, American Indian, Chinese and beyond).

But now that we’re routinely taking stock of two seminal athletes of color, both of whom dominated their Downton Abbey-white sports at different times in their careers, it’s fair to delve into how they both handled race and ask a simple question:

Is the importance of a strong racial identity — especially being viewed as authentically black — something to fall back on during career and life struggles?…

Read the entire article here.

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The twisted irony of the NYPD wrongly assaulting and detaining black tennis star James Blake

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2015-09-11 02:02Z by Steven

The twisted irony of the NYPD wrongly assaulting and detaining black tennis star James Blake

The Daily Kos
2015-09-10

Shawn King

Yeah. This really happened.

Retired black tennis star James Blake, in an NYPD double-fault, was slammed to a Manhattan sidewalk and handcuffed by a white cop in a brutal case of mistaken identity.

The 35-year-old Blake, once ranked No. 4 in the world, suffered a cut to his left elbow and bruises to his left leg as five plainclothes cops eventually held him for 15 minutes Wednesday outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

“It was definitely scary and definitely crazy,” Blake told the Daily News. “In my mind there’s probably a race factor involved, but no matter what there’s no reason for anybody to do that to anybody.”

Of course, Blake is right. This absolutely should not have happened, but that much is a obvious to all of us. There are questions we should be asking, though…

Read the entire article here.

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Police Tactics in Harsh Glare After Arrest of James Blake

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2015-09-11 01:29Z by Steven

Police Tactics in Harsh Glare After Arrest of James Blake

The New York Times
2015-09-10

Benjamin Mueller, Al Baker and Liz Robbins

A New York Police Department officer was stripped of his gun and badge as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William J. Bratton issued swift apologies on Thursday for the rough arrest of James Blake, the retired tennis star, after he was misidentified as a suspect in a fraudulent credit card ring.

Criticism swirled over the possibility that Mr. Blake, who is biracial, had been racially profiled in the episode on Wednesday. But it was Mr. Bratton’s acknowledgment that Mr. Blake may have been treated too aggressively when an officer threw him to the ground that put a renewed focus on the everyday arrest tactics long criticized by the city’s minority residents.

The incongruity of a Harvard-educated professional athlete being manhandled by six white plainclothes officers on a sidewalk in Midtown Manhattan quickly became an embarrassment for the Police Department and a headache for Mr. de Blasio, exposing the kind of unprovoked aggression that he and elected leaders across the country have sought to stamp out.

The officer’s decision to throw an unarmed, compliant man to the ground added to the sense that black people are often roughed up by the police out of view, with few resources to bring attention to their grievances. Mr. Bratton said the officers had failed to report the arrest, as they were required to do.

In a sign of the shifting discourse on race and policing, Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Bratton moved with unusual speed to contact Mr. Blake to apologize. But the gestures also raised questions about whether they would have moved so swiftly if the encounter had not involved a well-known figure…

…“I do think most cops are doing a great job keeping us safe, but when you police with reckless abandon, you need to be held accountable,” Mr. Blake, whose mother is white and whose father was black, said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”…

…Mr. Sanders said he saw the officers shove Mr. Blake face-first into a large, mirrored building support beam near the Hyatt. With his head wrenched to the side and his hands cuffed behind him, Mr. Blake tried to talk.

Mr. Sanders said he saw the officers shove Mr. Blake face-first into a large, mirrored building support beam near the Hyatt. With his head wrenched to the side and his hands cuffed behind him, Mr. Blake tried to talk….

Read the entire article here.

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