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No "Ifs" About It

I didn't really care that Detroit Free Press sportswriter Mitch Albom decided to go in on New York Jets defensive back Antonio Cromartie in a column the other day. Albom blasted Cromartie after the player admitted on HBO's "Hard Knocks" series that he has eight children by six women and then struggled to remember all of his children's names. Albom called Cromartie's segment "one of the most embarrassing video clips in sports history." And while I don't agree, Albom's predictable moralizing about Cromartie's irresponsibility wasn't an issue. Chances are, Cromartie really is a lousy father who spends more time making babies than raising them.

But what comes later in the column did irritate me tremendously.

Fathering kids as if you're watering plants is a growing problem in the sports world, particularly in African-American circles. And if we are going to talk about this issue, we need to drop our sensitivities toward this fact.

Pardon me, but what the heck does that mean,  "if we are going to talk about this...?"

Sorry, Mitch, but "we" have been talking about, and struggling with, this issue long before you turned on HBO. Black people certainly don't have any special "sensitivities" toward discussing teen pregnancy or out-of-wedlock births (and, frankly, I've yet to run across anyone of any color who really does either). Black folks don't scream "racism" when a young person has so many children he can't recall their names or when anyone chastises him for it. We think it's problematic also — though, in my case, less because he's unmarried than because he's immature. This is also why you don't see us turning these parents into reality TV stars or giving them cool monikers like "octo-dad."

Throughout our communities there are many African-Americans, prominent and otherwise, who've spent long years grappling quite publicly with these very problems, people ranging from Dr. Marian Wright Edelman to Faye Wattleton to the brothers in 100 Black Men. Likewise, there are also many white Americans, Latinos and others who dedicate every day of their lives to dealing with this matter, in schools, at health clinics and hospitals, in foster homes and in many other quarters. But Albom dismisses all of their work so he can wag a finger at some country-ass football player (who, at least for now, does have the means to care for his kids).

If we are going to talk about this issue...

No, people who really care about social and reproductive issues, "particularly in African-American circles," don't need to debate whether to "talk" about this. There's no "if." They, we, have been talking. And no one needs to "drop" any make-believe "sensitivities" just so a columnist can feel better about his trite hectoring, either.

Cromartie's actions are irresponsible and the social implications are certainly bothersome. But so are suggestions that "we" somehow need Mitch Albom to teach us about honest dialogue.

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  • 1

    I read Mitch Albom's column, and agreed with it 100%. Then, I said I will wait for the EXACT reacting Mr. Dawsey had. I knew it was coming. Of course, you would take offense to "If we are going to talk about this issue." SOMEHOW, you took that as saying "we" haven't talked about it at all. As a 45 year-old African-American, I know what will set us off all too well. What continuously saddens me is that we are talking more about Mitch's comments about "we" than we are talking about the implications of Cromartie's immaturity.

    Yes, Black people are out there talking everyday about this problem. I happen to be one of them. I did not and still do not read what you are reading in Mitch's words. HE is a part of the "we" to which he is referring. He was, in my opinion, trying to voice his opinion and be a part of the dialogue without the obligatory accusations of racism. He did NOT say that African-American circles are not talking about this issue.

    Now I will sit back and wait for certain people to call me a black apologist, uncle Tom, etc. It's coming, and I know from whom it will. These are my opinions, like it our not. And I'm not apologizing.

    • I didn't think Albom was talking only about African-Americans when he used "we." I took that as a fairly inclusive reference -- but yes, with particular implications for black Americans (which isn't unfair in and of itself). And that's why I also mentioned that there are others in the conversation who have also been talking about this for a long time (whites, latinos, etc.). I think he does them a disservice, too.
    • Funny thing is, while you're swift to mention your certainty about "what will set us off," it's your response that I find predictable. It strikes me as one of those typical statements born of someone just waiting to break out the "you misunderstood him" card, if you will. I'm not waiting around for examples of "racism" in Albom's pieces. I was annoyed at the presumptuousness.

    • I think we can be knee-jerk in our response to race-sensitive matters, yes — but I also think we need to be careful about knee-jerk accusations that someone is looking to "take offense" over racism when that ain't the case. I think assumptions on both ends can be problematic and simplistic.

  • 2

    If we are now to have the Sports industry demand integrity in relationships, we might just have a huge can o'worms on our hands.

    To be sure there is all sorts of idolizing in the sports world and some take advantage of that, particularly away from home after a few drinks which support the sports agenda.

    But what about when he can no longer support those kids and the huge salaries are blown or snookered by "managers".

    Do sports really markedly enhance life itself? Some would say yes and some would say no.

    I once mentioned to Ro that there is entitlement and endowment and one should be very clear what those words mean. They don't grant each other. And the careless use of either can spell disaster to more than one person.


  • 3

    Mr. Dawsey,

    I appreciate you explanation, although I've never been one to pull a "you misunderstood him" card. I heard from other Blacks and they did have knee-jerk reactions and charges of racism where leveled. As you know, everything isn't racism but many of us dismiss an argument as racism without looking at the entirety of the situation. That was my main point and believe me, my comments were barely directed at you.

    You read presumptuousness in his story, I did not. If that makes me a card carrying "you misunderstood him" member, so be it.

  • 4

    I found Mr. Albom's article very problematic. It's one thing to talk about irresponsible fathering of children and it's another to state that it is indicative of African-American culture. If you want to have a conversation about absentee fathers then fine, have that conversation. But the finger wagging at black Americans was unnecessary and irresponsible.

    Did Mitch Albom write about aggressive white jocks committing acts of rape after Ben Roethlisberger's trangressions? Were his situations indicative of white culture?

  • 5

    Mitch Albom has a long history of talking about an individual and applying his assertions to entire groups. Therein lies the problem. No one has an appreciation for a baby maker....not even a rich one.

  • 6

    Sometimes I just want to run and never stop running but I know I can't and even if I could disappear white folks like Mitch Albom and his cohorts of both arrogant white liberals and Black apologists will still occupy to many inportant roles and decision making positions in the marketplace both private and public...

    Mitch like many impotent anger filled white males that exist in our culture always enjoy and salivate over yahoos like Comartie ...Penis envy athletically challenged white males like Mitch fill the stadiums and arenas of America every weekend...Truth is of course bigots like Mitch also operate in our corporate venues and educational locales..

    Right when I am about to surrender to the daily carnage of folks seeking to dehumanize Black folks I always run into the children in the hood who have fathers like Comartie and unlike white bigots like Mitch who demonize their creation and existence I am reminded they deserve the dignity and opportunity to extend and prosper beyond the boundaries of failed parenting and the contempt of people like Mitch..

    It feels wonderful knowing the world is more than the hate of people like Mitch Albom ...Keeping hope alive even in the midst of hate is a wonderful thing..

  • 7

    Darrell Dawsey, your bias is showing! Loud and clear! Too loud. What did you not understand about "if we are going to talk about this issue???" He was being much kinder than I would have been...I would have started the paragraph with: "Fathering children as if he were one of Michael Vick's bastard dogs" and no, that would not have been racist, but very factual. How do you NOT care that Mitch Albom went in on Cromartie? You should not only care, but maybe YOU should have been the one to question this NFL players' morals! I applaud Albom for having the balls to address this disgusting issue. Where are your balls? Have any? I don't know, and could care less what "color" you are---the facts are there: SEVENTY-TWO per cent of black children are born out of wedlock?????? It may "only" be 62%, because Albom writes that whites accounted for 28%, followed by Asians at 17%. I'm no math major, but with the 72% figure, that adds up to 117%. No, Darrell, this is not about Mitch Albom, whites, or any other type of racial bias. NFL, as well as NBA players have a problem that filters into our society. You, and folks like you, appear to put athletes on some sort of pedestal---if you really wanted to address this issue prior to Albom's column, why didn't you? It's been out in the forefront for many years. My humble solution would be to have the NFL & NBA owners inject a MORALS clause into players' contracts to better ensure abhorrent behavior is not tolerated. In other words, zero tolerance for fathering children out of wedlock. We had the sense to get our dogs spayed and neutered---maybe the answer for Cromartie would be a simple vasectomy, or is he so selfish that that wouldn't be an option?

    As for some of the other comments, PLEASE do not turn Albom's column into a racial issue. Step back, and be totally objective. GThrasher, you need some serious counseling to get past your obvious hatred of white folks! My God, do you sound angry! "Impotent anger filled white males?" Are you serious? Penis envy??? Athletically challenged? Who are you to assume that "white males" enjoy and salivate over idiots like Cromartie? I, and many others like me, cannot stand watching, let alone admiring, over-paid athletes of ANY color who don't act as role models, both on and off their fields of play. Children emulate these clowns because they can run fast, dunk a basketball, blast a homer or do their self-serving, stupid little jigs when scoring a touchdown, but adults see them for what some of them truly are: Narcissists who could care less about anyone else! I envy people like Dr. Bill Cosby, who says exactly what Mitch Albom said, and he could care less if you refer to him as an "Uncle Tom". I'll go out on a limb and bet my life that you (and probably Darrell Dawsey) thought that black role model, wanna be actor, disgraced ex-football player, Orenthal James Simpson, was innocent (during the 1st trial) of murdering those two "white folks" despite the overwhelming evidence. His "peers" let him off the hook after less than an hour of deliberating because he was......a black man! Guess what? White folks didn't agree with the verdict, but did they go out and trash and loot L.A.??? Go back a short 3 years earlier to the Rodney King police officers trial (and subsequent acquittal), and compare the difference in cultures, & yes, sadly, races. No, we as a society still have a long way to go, on that I will agree. That said, racists come in all colors, including the "color" black. Sharpton & Jackson are proof of that! By the way, you missed the first "R" in "Cromartie".....twice!

  • 8

    Mr. Albom wrote an almost-perfect essay. The statistics he cites stand on their own, and the inferences he draws give pause. But his pre-emptive defense is something of an insult, as it chastises readers without according them the chance not to deserve it. There is no more odious condescension than pretending not to condescend. — Steve Cuno (

  • 9

    I never pay attention to intellectual cowards who hide behind an alias and a keyboard make numerous racist inferences and then have the audacity to that I am a racist becuase I dare to question white racism of slugs like Mitch..

    BTW some of my friends are,lol,lol and Black folks don't used the white created term of "uncle tom" anymore but you were correct about mr. unfunny jello,lol,lol

  • 10


    Mitch's narrative and his inferences were racist and his statistics not only reflected his contempt for Black males but they were used to butress his racism...Your concerns about his condescension are a weak effort on your part to perhaps to deflect your own racial shortcomings....

  • 11

    Gthrasher: Thanks for the kind words---never have been called an intellectual, but I'll take it as a compliment, coming from you! As for "hiding behind a keyboard and an alias" you're both right AND wrong....right in that most everyone who posts aren't stupid enough (no slam on Steve Cuno) to use their real names, including yourself---or is Thrasher your last name, and "G" stands for, perhaps George??? You're wrong in that I am proud of what I write, and think before I put any comments on my computer. I also make sure that I SPELL words correctly, as well as take precautions to ensure my grammar is proper, so as not to confuse those who read my words. I fail to see the humor about some of your friends being white, but it's nice to hear that you keep them around so you can refer to them as friends, ensuring your status as being politically correct! I must correct you on your comment about "Uncle Tom" and that you really don't know your own history. Google "Origin of Uncle Tom" and pull up the 4th item listed---it is from American Thinker, an article dated 4/6/2008. I took the liberty to cut and paste the damning evidence, which proves you don't really understand your own culture. As for "Mr. Unfunny", aka Bill Cosby, I would have to say that you are definitely in the minority---no pun intended---with a comment like that one! Hey, hey, hey!!!

  • 12


    Here it is---directly taken from "American Thinker"! You may want to read the entire article---very informative.

    Black women had a name for men who quit the Republican Party and became Democrats - this process was known as "Crossing the Jordan" - and that name was "Uncle Tom."

  • 13

    Mr.Intellectual coward cahnartist,

    Publications like American Thinker do not define my culture nor does my culture invoke white created terms like "Uncle Tom" nor do I give any credibility to the white publications and Black history... White privledge no longer has any currency nor respect in a post racial era...

    It is you who apparently does not have a clue about Black Americans..Now run along and go perform your human spell checking services in some other forum..Intellectual cowards have no standing with me..

    You clearly are out of your element here..

  • 14

    Here's an excerpt from I guess when we say it it's ok, but if a white man says EXACTLY the same thing, its racism.

    EJ: Why do you think the father/daughter bond is so important?
    RV: Because it effects every aspect of a child's life. Sadly, 65% of black children don't have a father in the home. Many of the social ills [poverty, lack of education] can be linked to fathers not being there.

  • 15


    Please go seek a better definition of "racism" than the premise you are operating on ..I am sure once you understand what "racism" is you will stop making these inane comparisions..

    The entire discussion and narrative around the discussion of parenting in our nation when race is invoked is based upon the patronizing and quite often racist paradigms created by whites ..The absence of fathers in Black households is not the sole reason for social ills in our nation.

    Unlike you I don't evaluate or model the behavior of Black Americans on the failed standards and paradigms of a underdeveloped and racist culture . There is not value or merit in that comparison or cultural exchange..

    Often when people like Mitch and others engaged in false inferences about Black households and parenting their efforts are not about helping Black families. Negrophobia is a fixture of white racism and privledge...

    Your statement that many of the social ills can be linked to absent father is disinformation and propaganda and ignores the carnage created by families with both parents present. I have never read a commentary by Mitch wherein he indicts the dual parents of criminals that have waged war on our communities it is easier for Mitch to demonize Black men and our families ...Of course principled journalism suffers when fiction and tabloid theme sleazed is the new normal.

    At the end of day of course Mitch 's commentaries are not targeted for Black venues his racist fiction is designed for the readership that is not interested in the realities of poor families suffering from the centuries of inequity and inhumanity. It is tragic that Black people like you are a conduit for his hate speech....

  • 16


    People like Gthrasher (who calls ME an "intellectual coward" but who does not choose to divulge his name) are angry, and perhaps, rightfully so. You could show people (note: I did not say "those people") like Gthrasher (or is it really "trasher"?) positive, fully documented PROOF, including statistics, as you, I, and Albom have done, and he (they) still will be in denial, and I'm not speaking about that long river over in the Amazon! Trasher reminds me of that stellar citizen, (and Mel Gibson's father) Hutton Gibson. Despite overwhelming facts and figures, he denies that there was a Holocaust, causing millions to perish! I wrote that Trasher is angry, perhaps rightfully so. Since he labels me an intellectual, I feel the need to live up to his expectations. Doing an amateur profile of Trasher, I would suspect that he is a single black man, in his late 20's, raised by a single mother, possibly never met (or barely knew) his father, lives somewhere in the South, is currently either unemployed, or working at a job he despises, barely graduated from high school, but is intelligent to the point of reading and absorbing propaganda that further fuels his anger towards just about everyone whom he feels suppresses people of his race, and to top it off, he is really ticked off because he is only 5'6"-5'8" the way, I don't know too many cowards who were in the United States Marine Corps (R) but in fairness to Trasher, I chose not to divulge that fact when he first slapped that "coward" label on me!

  • 17

    Mr.Intellectual Cahnartist,..

    WOW..Who knew I had such a profile...WHOA.....Keep posting you just verify and confirm my premise about the racism in white america and of course you just add to my legacy..

    5'6 and in the,lol,lol,lol,lol,lol,lol

    BTW I am a real Black Living Icon..and Thrasher is my name.....Just,lol,lol


  • 18

    Mr. Thrasher,

    The statement on the social ills was from THE ARTICLE, not me, if you actually read what I posted. I am not the one that called Mitch's column racist, YOU did. You need to understand the definition of word and its many forms.

    I am not a conduit for anyone's hate speech, especially since that what Mitch's column is not.

    I, unlike you, do not concern myself with what whites think of us. I do not concern myself with how whites impregnate their women or how often they get sent to jail versus us. I care what we think, how we act and how to better ourselves. I am concerned about our fathers being role models for their children. Many of us actually don't talk about these issues until someone white points it out and we get mad, rightly or wrongly.

    As I have stated in the past, I solve my differences with my intellect and do not need to resort to name calling. It serves no purpose.

    Mr. Thrasher, this is the last time I will respond to anything you post now and forever. Say what you like, that is your right. It is my right to ignore you.

  • 19


    Extremely well said. I doubt that anyone can or will change this guy's perspective, but that is going to have to be okay. Obviously, you are well educated, have a very good head on your shoulders, and are most certainly respected by those whom you meet in life. I will guarantee that this character will write back and respond to your comments within the hour! As that famous American said back in 1992: "Can't We All Just Get Along?"

  • 20


    Nothing personal but when ignorance is present I simply like to crush it..

  • 21

    Mr.Intellectual coward carhn,

    Stop obessing over me.. I may have to report you to Homeland,lol,lol,..Psst... BTW your profile of me is soooooooooooo,lol,lol


  • 22

    I look forward to Mitch burning a column to wag his finger at Bristol Palin. Oh wait, that would go over well with WJR's target market. Let's just talk about the black guy instead.


  • 23

    I shouldn't even be posting because I have not even read Mr. Albom's article, but that's kind of the point. I don't read them anymore. I used to, back in the olden days, when he wrote about sports. He wrote really good column's on the Wings and Tigers, Lions, Pistons. Then one day he crossed over into giving his opinion on everything else.

    I remember exactly when I quit reading his columns. It was when Konstantinov was in that horrible accident and fans, more and more of them, kept vigil outside the hospital. Mitch didn't like that at all. He wrote about how it was a slap in the face to "all the other patients" in the hospital, because they weren't getting as many visitors. That did it. No more Mitch. Funny though, how he used that exact incident years later to tell people how wonderful Detroit fans are. Oh, really?

    So, in the big picture, it isn't in a childs best interest to have a dad who doesn't know his or her name. It also isn't good to be an axe murderer, a terrorist, a habitual drunk driver, a thief, a liar, a junkie, a jerk, a tailgater, or weigh too much or not enough. But don't worry, if Mitch hasn't given those people what for, he will soon enough.

  • 24

    The larger point, again, is lost in a pointless debate about race. The largest point Dawsey made is that, obviously unbeknownst to Albom, this issue is being analyzed and addressed ad nausem by sociologists, teachers, researchers and other do-gooders who want to solve the problem - not just wag a patronizing finger.

    Albom should've done his homework like any good journalist would.

  • 25

    [...] since we all love sports drama, I want all my fellow Detroit Lions football fans to check out detroit.blogs.time and tell me what you think about[...]

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