Savage sacked during another play during the Texans-49ers matchup.
Image: Eric Christian Smith/AP/REX/Shutterstock
Football is violent, but the public’s disgust with the damage caused by America’s most popular game might finally have reached a critical point this season. The sport is killing itself, and the most powerful arbiter of its practice, the NFL, might just let that death happen by not taking care of its players.
Football’s high potential for injury is obvious whenever it’s played, but a particularly egregious moment of official malpractice came during the Houston Texans-San Francisco 49ers matchup on Sunday, which drew fresh rounds of criticism, for good reason.
Texans quarterback Tom Savage took a hit hit after delivering a pass from his own endzone and was knocked to the ground by 49ers defensive end Elvis Dumervil, a fairly routine play. Something was visibly wrong with Savage afterward, however, and it was a moment that should give all viewers pause.
Tom Savage hits head on ground, appears to have seizure while ref looks on, comes back in the game 5 minutes later. pic.twitter.com/gW9lYxDIwQ
The Texans QB visibly quivered and twitched on the ground as an official stood over him (since we don’t have any information from the Texans medical staff, let’s refrain from calling this a seizure). Savage was taken out of the game for a medical evaluation, as is dictated by the NFL’s Concussion Diagnosis and Management Protocol after such a big hit — but he returned to the field of play just a few minutes later.
Savage’s return sparked fury among observers on Twitter, and rightly so.
Disgusted that the @HoustonTexans allowed Tom Savage to return to the game after 2 plays after showing these horrifying #concussion signs (is that a seizure?) after a head impact. I would not let my worst enemy go through the 2017 #NFL sideline concussion protocol… https://t.co/PeJr5ISAIJ
Most of the ire comes because of Savage’s reactions to the play, which clearly gel with concussion symptoms listed by the league in its protocol. Those involuntary movements should have been noted by the two athletic trainers, or “Booth ATC Spotters,” who observe video replays of every game in real time. The video review is necessary in case the physicians on the field miss out on key details during the speed and commotion of a post-play injury, lest they allow a seemingly-lucid-but-actually-concussed player back in the game — which is exactly what happened with Savage.
The NFL is considering band-aids to solve its problems, when the appropriate response is an emergency surgery.
There will surely be some type of league response after the Savage incident, but as a football fan and former player, I wonder if it will be a matter of too little, too late. We went through this song and dance the week before, after all — following a particularly violent slate of games, the NFL reportedly considered adding rules for automatic ejections, as the NCAA has implemented.
An automatic ejection would not have helped Tom Savage, though. Elvis Dumervil’s hit wasn’t dirty, and it appeared to be contact with the ground that caused the concussion. The NFL is considering band-aids to solve its problems, when the appropriate response is an emergency surgery.
The types of plays that knocked Savage out of the game aren’t new, nor is the neurological trauma sustained by football players as a result of those plays. But the response to the incident among fans seems to be much more pointed than in years’ past.
The difference this season, it seems, is a growing awareness that the wanton collateral damage inflicted by the sport just isn’t right. Thanks to our evolving understanding of the tollconditions like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, more commonly known as CTE, can take on gridiron heroes after their playing days are done, the big hits are more cringeworthy than exhilarating.
That awareness comes with no thanks to the NFL, which took until last year to officially acknowledge the link between football and CTE, concerned about the disease’s impact on the league’s bottom line. The degenerative neurological disease has become a bogeyman for football players and fans alike. Players who have either died young or ended their own lives, like Junior Seau or disgraced Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, are now known to have suffered from the disease.
Most visibly, the New York Times ran an incendiary report in July detailing the results of a Boston University study that found CTE in the brains of 110 of 111 former NFL players, and 177 of the 202 samples examined in total. The study wasn’t perfect, but the prevalence of the disease and its link to football was impossible to ignore.
Shortly after the research ran, the player widely considered the smartest man in football, Ravens lineman John Urschel, retired. He later said the study wasn’t the sole cause for his leaving the game, but he still joined a class of other early exits like Chris Borland and Rashard Mendenhall, who chose to end their careers on their terms, before the specter of CTE had more of an opportunity impact their future selves. I think about the brain damage I caused myself with my own two concussions, and dread the thought of what might be coming for me further down the road.
That self-reflection is why football will die — the reckoning everyone who has played or who has loved someone who played now faces — as the NFL continues to let players appear to suffer seizures on the field in one moment and return to face the violence of the game in the next. If breakthroughs allow neurologists to diagnose CTE in living patients, as the most recent research suggests could be possible, that reckoning will increase a hundredfold.
If football has to die, it should.
Anecdotally, I know the death throes of the sport have already begun. My father has coached youth football since I began playing in 1998, and the last few years have seen a drastic decline in participation. He’s loved the game his whole life and has changed his approach to make it safer for his players, but he’s convinced the sport will be doomed in a few years if things don’t change from the top down.
I love football too, far more than I should. I don’t want people to stop playing. I want the game to evolve to be safer for its players, like it did when Teddy Roosevelt got involved in its early days, when player deaths were even more common. I want it to maintain some level of the violence it’s known for — and it’s important to remember that all sports come with some degree of risk — but not without the appropriate considerations to keep players as safe as possible.
Every Sunday that leaves us with travesties like Tom Savage being allowed back on the field after taking a hit that leaves him shaking on the ground is a missed opportunity to fix things. But the people in power might not care until this problem is too far gone.
If football has to die, it should. Those of us who love it will just have to be ready to let it go.
Ancient map-making required mastery over the disciplines of mathematics and astronomy, the means and courage to venture into dangerous uncharted territories, inhuman patience, artistry and attention to detail, and the ability to perch on the cutting edge of every new technological advancement your cultures most talented minds could muster. David Hodgsons job is arguably more difficult and certainly more tedious.
Hodgson makes video game strategy guides which, much like ancient cartography, is a lost art of primitive methods and painstaking processes.
Not that Hodgson would complain. He started working at gaming magazines in the 90s, but was always drawn back to the world of strategy guides. Currently working on contract for Prima Games, the largest strategy guide publisher in the US, he gets access to some of the biggest games in the world months before the public. And he slaves over their every detail, spending months and months gorging on each new obsession.
I think it’s one of those jobs that you kind of have to pinch yourself, he told me in his workshop a converted guest house behind his Spanish-style Southern California home. The room is equipped with comfortable seating, a large wraparound desk housing three monitors, countless books most of them strategy guides lining floor to ceiling shelves on one wall, and various macabre knick-knacks, from Lovecraftian posters to the crown jewel: Two replica Egyptian sarcophagi flanking the flatscreen like golden guardian deities.
It’s one of those jobs that you kind of have to pinch yourself.
Exact statistics about strategy guide sales are closely guarded info, Douglas Walsh, another longtime strategy guide author, told me over Twitter. As you can imagine, the sales today have consolidated around a few big hits: Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto, things like that, he said. [Sales] have also dropped off considerably, especially for shooters. The Call of Duty and Gears of War books sell a fraction of the copies they used to. But a big hit, especially as a Limited Edition hardcover, can crack Amazon’s top 25. Fighting game books in particular (and Skyrim, GTA, etc.) have even cracked the top five.
Despite those isolated successes, the number of guides produced each year is down along with sales to about 60 every year, half of what the figure was in the PS2 era, Walsh said.
Like vinyl records, the strategy guide as we once knew it all but died as a medium with the internets rise, transforming by necessity into a niche market for hardcore collectors and hobbyists. Hodgson said hes one of around a dozen remaining strategy guide authors.
In the middle of the afternoon, the rays of golden California sunlight barely grazed the exposed rafters of Hodgsons lair. He wore a black t-shirt with the words Who are you a ghost of? a to his brother Ian Hodgsons experimental musical act, Moon Wiring Club, described on its own labels as confusing English electronic music. Hodgson often speaks wistfully of his succulents, and hes frequently sarcastic, though in the dry English way that you barely register after a while.
Each guide Hodgson authors is a massive undertaking involving a six-month-long stretch of seven-day work weeks and looming deadlines, gargantuan organizational conundrums, word counts and page limits, two-week spans of 12-hour days spent hunched over monitors far from home in a game studios back room, trying to beat every quest in a 100-hour RPG. Hes been doing this long and well enough with somewhere over 100 guides to his name (he lost count around 80) that he gets to pick what games he tackles. He mostly chooses massive role-playing games like The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4, simply because he loves diving deep into overwhelmingly huge projects. These are the types of games that seem to get more complex with every release. Each new feature Hodgson must chronicle and quadruple-check is another grey hair in his tangled beard.
I have a very understanding wife, Hodgson said.
The process of creating a video game strategy guide is shockingly complex. Look, for example, at what it takes just to make the hundreds of maps that go into the average guide on which Hodgson works.
In the old days the 90s hed draw maps freehand on graph paper and hand them over to a designer. But the games back then were significantly smaller than the ones he writes guides for now.
He starts by doing fly-overs in a special debug version of the game that still contains developer tools, taking screenshots of every single inch of the games exterior locations. In the case of Fallout 4, that included 3.82 square miles of irradiated wilderness and crumbling city streets.
What I’ve done is I’ve flown over the entire tiles of the map, multiple times, inch by inch. I do a north-south pass, I do an east-west pass, over the course of a week, he said. This isn’t playing the game. This is me floating above each sector in the game and plotting it out.
This isn’t playing the game. This is me floating above each sector in the game and plotting it out.
The game wont be out for several months, and its still very much in development, which unfortunately means that dozens of the points he and his assistants and co-authors have plotted in these exteriors could change.
Then you have 500 maps that need to be drawn of all of the different interiors in the game, he continued. You have to figure out first how many interiors there are in the game. So you go to every location in the game, and you see how big it is, then you estimate it, then you tell [strategy guide maker] Prima, ‘It’s going to be about this big. Find more mappers please.
At this point, hes still far from done. I’ve figured out how many primary locations there are. I’ve then figured out how many secondary locations there are that don’t appear on your worldmap. Those are just like, Oh, it’s a shed. Does it appear as an icon on the world map? No. Shit. Well, it has to go in the guide, he said. I’m talking about stuff that isn’t even a quest-related location. I’m talking about a pond with some barrels in it. Maybe he doesnt have to be that thorough not all strategy guides take inventory of every nonessential part of the environment the author can find. But thats just his personality, and its part of the reason hes so good at this job.
With the exterior and interior maps more or less complete, the rough versions based on screenshots are sent to a team of around 20 designers. Its now been weeks since Hodgson first received the early build of the game, and he hasnt even written anything yet.
He hasnt catalogued, sorted and described every single gun, sword, helmet, potion, blueprint, material, artifact, food, enemy, character, spell and skill in the game; he hasnt completed every possible branch of each and every quest, mission, side-quest, bounty, treasure hunt and optional objective; he hasnt compiled strategies for every mini-game, tactics for every boss, solutions to every puzzle and tricks for every fight; and he hasnt taken the hundreds screenshots that need to accompany it all.
A lot of it isnt playing a game necessarily its just checking something in a game and then checking it against an Excel document or a map or something like that, he said. If Im playing Skyrim for 6,000 hours over ten months with a co-author, Im not Woohoo! playing Skyrim; Im going here and checking to make sure that the guides accurate at that location.
The part of my brain that says ‘You don’t need to be this meticulous’ doesn’t work.
The games change in sometimes major ways, even after the guide goes to print. In that case all they can do is update the guides online component and point readers to the web should anything in the final book prove inaccurate. Whenever possible, though, Hodgson redoes a lot of work every time he gets a new build. For 2001s 007: Agent Under Fire, for example, he had to retake all of the screenshots two days before the game was going to go to print because they changed the color of one of the lasers, he said.
The part of my brain that says ‘You don’t need to be this meticulous’ doesn’t work, Hodgson told me.
Hodgson began working in the video game industry in the mid 90s after graduating with a history degree from the University of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England. Hed wanted to become a history teacher, but instead used a PlayStation fan zine hed started called PlayStation Frenzy to get a job at Maximum, a new gaming magazine from a media company called EMAP.
He wrote massive 40-page features on individual games a precursor of things to come in his career while living on a disused German fishing trawler called the St. Michael that he says was moored illegally on the River Thames in London. They had to siphon power from a nearby car scrapyard.
It sounds quite idyllic, but it wasn’t, he remembered. It was dripping with different weird poisonous acid from roofs that hadn’t been sealed, and it was sort of slowly dissolving.
I kept my PlayStation, but not my sanity, he continued.
Maximum folded after seven issues, and Hodgson went on to a brief stint at Official Nintendo Magazine before receiving a call from Dave Halverson, publisher of the popular GameFan magazine.
Hodgson moved to LA and worked on his first strategy guides at GameFan for games like Super Mario 64, Soul Blade and Doom 64 under the magazines GameFan Books division. He flitted among various publishers and magazines until 2000. He called Prima, at the time one of the biggest strategy guide companies (its main competitor, BradyGames, would later be bought by publisher Penguin Random House and folded into Prima). He sent Prima his Metal Gear Solid guide, and they assigned him Armored Core.
That was 16 years ago and I’m still doing it right now, he said.
Hodgson flipped lovingly through his creations as we chatted, pointing out where hed embellished a simple description with some flowery joke, or where hed really gotten into it and written entire sections in the voice of a character from the game.
That love goes both ways CD Projekt Red, developers of The Witcher 3, built Hodgson his own tribute in the form of book merchant Marcus T.K. Hodgson, a character in the games Free City of Novigrad.
We just wanted to honor David for all the awesome work he does, CD Projekt PR Manager Radek Grabowski told me over email. This is just a tribute.
Hodgson seems to always go above and beyond. His humor is often self-deprecating, but hes also proud when he talks about some of the things hes accomplished within the limited medium of strategy guides, like the note he received from Hideo Kojima about his Metal Gear Solid guide in 1998.
Strategy guides were usually just go here, do this, go here, do that. I wanted it to be a bit more of an ‘official mission handbook.'”
He loved the guide. He liked the fact that I’d put box-outs for the history of the forklift truck in the first level, Hodgson said. Strategy guides were usually just go here, do this, go here, do that. I wanted it to be a bit more of an ‘official mission handbook,’ we called it. Kojima said hed shown the guide to his mother, who didnt really understand video games but of course knew what a book was.
For 2004s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II Hodgson planned and orchestrated an easter egg on the strategy guides DVD pack-in: Pressing a secret combination on your DVD player remote results in a special menu where you can access videos in which the voice actor for HK-47, a popular droid from the games, quotes other famous fictional robots and AI. Hodgson was excited to get the voice actor involved for a secret he deemed so obscure although his assertion that Nobody A) cares or B) has ever found that, because we never published the easter egg code is more self-deprecating than accurate, based on the above YouTube video and this .
But he nevertheless lit up when he talked about it, or about the more creative work hes gotten to do, like A Fractured Land: Tales of the Northern Realms, a 96-page lore book that came with the of the official The Witcher 3 guide, or The Improved Emperor’s Guide to Tamriel, a 224-page illustrated guide to the lands of Bethesdas The Elder Scrolls Online that was packed in with the games .
Hodgson wrote the Emperors Guide in character as the scholar Flaccus Terentius, conjuring the characters imagined journal entries as he walked the games fictional lands. It has annotations like Strange to find such Daedra worship among the devout, nestled next to detailed sketches, diagrams and paintings.
I studied history. Its sort of finding the evidence for something and then writing about it, and that was my transferrable skill, Hodgson said. If I wasn’t going to become a history teacher, I was going to maybe become a travel writer or something like that. And in a sense I am, except the places that I write about don’t really exist.
But travel writers dont go to Paris and painstakingly catalog every street sign and boulangerie.
Though travel writers much like strategy guide authors have been made obsolete. Why read a book about a place when you can simply search for photos of it on Instagram? Likewise, why buy an expensive book when everything you could want to know about every game ever made is a Google search away?
For one thing, you only have to look at one of Hodgsons guides to see the value for collectors and hardcore fans. And while the internet is always playing catch-up to catalog new releases in YouTube guides and Wikis, the official strategy guide arrives on day one (or earlier). That makes the physical strategy guide, ironically, the first choice for players who want instant, day one gratification.
“There’s a nice archaic nature to strategy guides that I enjoy. I can write about something that’s cutting edge, like Fallout 4, but I can publish it using 16th century technology.
Hodgson has his own reasons. I can’t show you the writings I’ve done for Maxim.com and Gamespy, because those sites aren’t there anymore, he said. Stuff disappears when you’re on the net. But this Akuji the Heartless strategy guide on paper, or in fact the Fallout 3 strategy guide that’s in the Library of Congress. So even after the bombs drop and we’re in the future apocalypse, you can go to the bunker down below the Library of Congress or even now, if you’d like to do it properly [and] you can search my books out. I think I’m the only person who will ever do that, but there’s a nice archaic nature to strategy guides that I enjoy. I can write about something that’s cutting edge, like Fallout 4, but I can publish it using 16th century technology.
Hodgson works on guides ten months out of every twelve, and he rarely plays video games for fun anymore. At the end of a long stretch, Im just sick of staring at screens, so I just go outside or I go and buy another aloe tree or an agave or a different type of succulent, he said. I maybe go on Facebook, but just to see what some of the people that I never get to see do. Friends.
You are suffering from extreme fatigue, and the dogs looking at you going I need to be fed and walked. Immediately, he said.
But if he quit tomorrow, hed still play games after a six-month sabbatical, at least. After your first week [off] youre just like Ah, sort of semi-retirement, this is great. This is fantastic, he said. And then another week goes by and youre sort of starting to get an itchy feeling. Cabin fever sets in. Youre like, whats next?
Hodgson recently wrapped up work on the Complete edition guide to The Witcher 3 and the official Watch Dogs 2 strategy guide, and at the time of writing hes putting the finishing touches on his Ghost Recon Wildlands guide. You can find his work wherever strategy guides are sold.
Mike Rougeau is a freelance journalist who lives in Los Angeles with his girlfriend and two dogs.
“Uncle Drew,” for the uninitiated, is the advertising alter ego of Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving dons old clothes and heaps on tons of makeup to transform into Uncle Drew, an old geezer who breaks ankles and dunks on flummoxed pickup hoopers at the park. (Oh, and Uncle Drew wants you to drink Pepsi.)
Uncle Drew made his debut back in May 2012, when a five-minute short film of Irving-dressed-as-Drew became an immediate online sensation. In that original spot, Drew shows up at an outdoor basketball court and dominates pickup players who seem to think they are actually being schooled by an old man, not an NBA star.
A shortened version of the spot then became a broadcast ad during the 2012 NBA Finals something that a Pepsi marketing mastermind told us at the time was not the original plan until the ad’s overwhelmingly positive reception online.
Now up next: An Uncle Drew feature-film starring Irving (whose middle name is Andrew).
ESPN on Thursday confirmed a Variety report about the new project. The Uncle Drew flick is expected to involve Irving’s character rounding up some fellow senior citizens for a hoops tournament.
That premise wouldn’t be a huge leap. Pepsi followed the original Uncle Drew spot with sequels co-starring Irving and other NBA stars also dressed as old men.
Meanwhile, here’s the original 2012 YouTube spot that created this whole monster. It’s been viewed 48 million times since first it first hit the web.
In the wake of the Greys Anatomy actors powerful BET Awards speech, we dig into his long, profound, and tireless history of working for social justice and equality. “>
Jesse Williams, with his piercing blue eyes and make-you-short-of-breath smile, always grabs attention, but never has he captured our gazeand our minds, our hearts, and our passionmore than with his powerful acceptance speech at the BET Awards Sunday night, where he received the Humanitarian Award.
The Greys Anatomy actor was called a tireless champion of change, and a voice for the voiceless, by Debra Lee, chairwoman and CEO of BET, when she presented him with the award.
His speech that followed went viral immediately for the eloquence and candor with which he thanked the unsung heroes in the fight against systemic racism and the black women who spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves, saying, we can and will do better for you.
He honored the memory of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Darrien Hunt, and Rekia Boyd, and demanded that more be done to end police violence. He called for an end to the celebration and commodification of black culture that happens in tandem with the devaluation of black lives. The thing is, though, the thing is that just because were magic doesnt mean were not real, he concluded.
It was an unprecedented dissemination of knowledge, call for action, and state of the union at an event like this, the immediate viral spread of which was deserved.
The value of a platform like an awards show is the megaphone and amplification it can give to a person like Williams, and the information he was giving. And its a byproduct of the very institutionalized marginalization that, as a white male reporter in my New York media newsroom, I was shamefully ignorant of Williamss work outside of Greys Anatomy.
His BET Awards speech was the start of a much-needed educationmoved and stirred by his words and also embarrassed by my blind spot for his work, Ive spent most of the day researching his social justice initiatives, reading his profound statements on resonant issues, and basking in the humanitarian genius he received the BET trophy for on Sunday.
Ive collected some of what Ive learned about him and his initiatives here. It might not be nearly enough of a spotlight, or make up for my earlier White Guy in a Manhattan Office privileged ignorance. But I encourage you to read, and explore further on your own because, while there are undoubtedly many who already are familiar with his work, Id suspect that Im not alone in just learning about Dr. Jackson Averys long history of activism.
Currently, he sits on the board of directors of the Advancement Project, a civil rights think tank and advocacy group. Its focus is work on-the-ground to mobilize and organize communities of color and provide support in their struggles for racial and social justice, from protecting voter rights and marginalization through redistricting to working to end the school-to-prison pipeline. Williams is the youngest member of the organizations board of directors.
In addition, he is an executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males, a multi-hyphenate art-media-education project that creates a platform for black men from diverse backgrounds to represent, refine, discuss, debate, and explore black male identity.
Williams himself has been open and influential on that very matter, the black male identity. He is biracial, the son of a white mother of Swedish descent and an African American father.
He credits his parents with first instilling in him a passion and obligation to social justice, something that became all the more important when his family moved from Chicago to suburban Massachusetts where, as The Guardian writes, he went from being one of the whitest kids in the area to being one of the darkest. When he moved to Massachusetts, he became co-president of the schools black student union.
Williams attended Temple University, majoring in African American Studies and Film and Media Arts. His first job out of school was as a public school teacher in Philadelphia, something he said was the best thing Ive ever done.
Hes said in interviews that if acting doesnt work outor if, lets say, Shonda Rhimes ever decides to kill his character off Greys Anatomyhed be a civil rights attorney, saying, Its what I love and what I care about. Its why I wake up.
When Quentin Tarantino released Django Unchained in 2013 and gave an interview saying I am responsible for people talking about slavery in America in a way they have not in 30 years, Williams penned a piece for CNN in response titled: Django, Still Chained.
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He talked about his biracial experience growing up on both sides of segregated neighborhoods, often viewed as invisible when racial topics arose, and how he witnessed candid dirt from both sides, and I studied it.
The conversation was almost always influenced by something people read or saw on a screen. Media portrayals greatly affect, if not entirely construct, how we interpret otherness. People see what they are shown, and little less, he wrote.
If, like Tarantino, you show up with a megaphone and claim to be creating a real solution to a specific problem, he continued, I only ask that you not instead, construct something unnecessarily fake and then act like youve done us a favor.
For The Huffington Post he wrote a piece based on his experience as a Philadelphia public school teacher, using it to discuss the staggering issue of children experiencing hunger. That was almost five years ago. His public activism has only intensified since. Just last month, Williams released a documentary he executive produced called Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement.
The film includes interviews with Black Lives Matter co-founders Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors, along with other leaders including DeRay McKesson, Michaela Angela Davis, and Williams himself.
Black Lives Matter is, in many ways, in its adolescence, he told The Huffington Post in an interview. Its an ongoing movement, so we wanted to be sure that, as we catalog its origin story and machination, we also wanted to be sure we do not treat it as a fixed, finite, closed circle. We want to look back without being conclusive.
Perhaps the simplest example of Williamss social justice work and power is his social media presence. Hes scoffed at the idea of hashtag activism, telling The Huffington Post, Miss me with that. Ive yet to hear an intelligent reason or criticism of using your voice on social media.
He continued: Were in the streets, were at the halls of power, were impacting policy directly, were changing the narrative and the way presidential candidates have to come correct in order to even show up in our town. And then were happening to report it online because those are the tools at our disposal. Aint nothing changed but the technologythe activism is whats happening.
Back in 2014, Williamss activism began making the cable news circuit when he joined the rallies and marches in the St. Louis area as part of Ferguson October.
Asked why he was there, he told Democracy Now: Because I couldnt get here sooner, because I had to work, but got here as soon as I possibly could. I think you need towe need to stand up and show some support for an incredible weekend of resistance, people coming from all over the country to say, Enough is enough, and were not going to, you know, be strung out in isolation anymore; recommit ourselves to finding unity, finding common ground, finding whats common to all of us. And that is just a basic, really, desire to be able to survive and not be killed with impunity, to have those whove taken an oath serve and protect us to, on occasion, serve and protect us, to be held accountable for our actions.
A year later, in October 2015, he appeared on a panel at The New Yorker festival alongside Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jelani Cobb, Claudia Rankine, Danai Gurira, and David Simon, titled The Fire This Time: Black in America.
It was a sprawling, searing conversation that covered absolution and forgiveness in the context of black and white America, among many other talking points. The goal is: Can we be done with this already please? he said. Look at how quickly we went to post-racial. Obama just got elected so were done right? Were done. Can we take the signs down? Can it be over please?
Riffing on Ta-Nehisi Coates, who argued that making the goal the arrests and charging of the officers for excessive violence emphasizes the individual rather than the institutional problems, Williams said, Youre playing whack-a-mole with the symptoms and not the core thing. Police are American citizens, they were born here, they were raised here and programmed here, as we all are. You go to public school and you spend 12 years learning white supremacy.
The truth is that we could fill out about a dozen pieces on The Daily Beast cutting and pasting some of his most insightful, provocative, and intelligent comments on race, injustice, and the state of our culture right now. And maybe we should, or should have this whole time. Its unfortunate that it takes a viral video to bring attention to a thought leader whose ideas and work deserves not just attention, but absorption and action.
In the meantime, here is the transcript to his speech in full, for it bears reading again:
This award, this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students, that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.
All right? Its kind of basic mathematics:, the more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize. Now this is also in particular for the black women, in particular, who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.
Now, what weve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So whats going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.
Now Ive got more, yall. Yesterday wouldve been young Tamir Rices 14th birthday, so I dont want to hear anymore about how far weve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rekia Boyd how its so much better to live in 2012 than 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Darrien Hunt.
Now the thing is though, all of us in here getting money, that alone isnt going to stop this. All right? Now dedicating our lives to get money just to give it right back for someones brand on our body, when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies.
There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we havent done, theres been no tax they havent levied against us, and weve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. Youre free, they keep telling us. But she wouldve been alive if she hadnt acted so free.
Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter. But, you know what though? The hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. And lets get a couple of things straight, just a little side note: The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. Thats not our job, all right, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.
Weve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo, and were done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil, black gold. Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is, though, the thing is that just because were magic, doesnt mean were not real.