Connect with us

Sports

NASCAR Distances Itself from Confederate Flag After Massacre

Published

on

In this Feb. 15, 2008, file photo, flags, including a Confederate flag, fap in the wind during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.  NASCAR is backing South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's call to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds in the wake of a massacre at a Charleston church, it said in a statement Tuesday, June 23, 2015. Though NASCAR bars the use of the flag in any official capacity, many fans fly the flag at their races. (AP Photo/Darryl Graham, File)

In this Feb. 15, 2008, file photo, flags, including a Confederate flag, fap in the wind during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Though NASCAR bars the use of the flag in any official capacity, many fans fly the flag at their races. (AP Photo/Darryl Graham, File)

MARK LONG, AP Sports Writer

Confederate flags are as easy to find at NASCAR races as cutoff jeans, cowboy hats and beer.

They fly over motorhomes. They adorn clothing. They are regular fixtures, just like Ford and Chevrolet, and that is unlikely to change any time soon.

NASCAR probably would like to see them go away.

The sanctioning body for the motorsports series backed South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s call to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds in the wake of the Charleston church massacre. NASCAR issued its statement Tuesday, the same day South Carolina lawmakers agreed to discuss removing the flag and one day after Haley said “the time has come” to take it down. And that is as far as NASCAR appears willing to go for now.

“As our industry works collectively to ensure that all fans are welcome at our races, NASCAR will continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity,” NASCAR said. “While NASCAR recognizes that freedom of expression is an inherent right of all citizens, we will continue to strive for an inclusive environment at our events.”

International Speedway Corp., NASCAR’S sister company that owns a majority of the tracks, echoed the sanctioning body’s response.

“We join NASCAR in support of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s position on the Confederate flag,” ISC President John Saunders said in a statement. “ISC strives to ensure all fans are welcome to enjoy our events and maintains an inclusive environment at our facilities nationwide. ISC will continue our long-standing practice to prohibit the sale of Confederate flag material on our property.”

Saunders declined a request by The Associated Press for further comment. Other tracks did not respond to requests for comment.

Nine people were slain last week at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Dylann Storm Roof, 21, is charged with murder. The white man appeared in photos holding Confederate flags and burning or desecrating U.S. flags, and purportedly wrote of fomenting racial violence.

Big retailers like Wal-Mart, Amazon, Sears, eBay and Etsy all said they would remove Confederate merchandise from their stores or websites and politicians across the South called for various steps to move away from the symbol that many associate with racism.

NASCAR has faced criticism over the years for various issues, often involving sponsors. A decade ago, there were questions when hard liquor companies emerged as potential sponsors for a sport built around fast cars and a series whose founding in 1948 gave ex-moonshiners a place to race. More recently, the National Rifle Association drew attention when it struck a sponsorship deal with Texas Motor Speedway not long after the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Connecticut.

Confederate flags have been flown by fans at NASCAR races for years. For NASCAR’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of Charleston, a Confederate flag theme was part of poster merchandise from the 1950s into the late ’70s.

Tracks have long and detailed rules for fans, but none involving the content of flags. Although NASCAR has eliminated the use of Confederate flags in any official capacity, it could take things a step further and include language in sanctioning agreements that would ban them altogether at tracks.

But that would be difficult to enforce at tracks with hundreds of acres of infield space and sometimes more than 100,000 fans.

“There’s only so much that you can do with an issue like this if you’re NASCAR,” said Brad Daugherty, a former NBA star and current co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing.

“But I will tell you, being an African-American man going to the racetrack and seeing the Confederate flag – and I’m a different egg or a different bird because I’m a Southern kid, I’m a mountain kid, I hunt and fish, I love racing,” Daugherty said Tuesday on Sirius XM radio. “But to walk into the racetrack and there’s only few that you walk into and see that Confederate flag – it does make my skin crawl. And even though I do my best to not acknowledge it or to pay any attention to it, it’s there and it bothers me because of what it represents.”

In 2012, NASCAR and track officials canceled plans to have pro golfer Bubba Watson drive the car from the television series “The Dukes of Hazzard” at Phoenix International Raceway, which is owned by ISC. Officials cited concerns about a negative reaction to an image of the Confederate flag on the roof of the “General Lee.”

“The image of the Confederate flag is not something that should play an official role in our sport as we continue to reach out to new fans and make NASCAR more inclusive,” NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said at the time. Watson said he didn’t “stand for the Confederate flag” and noted that NASCAR was “built on moonshining,” an occasional theme in the TV show.

Former “Dukes” actor and ex-Georgia Congressman Ben Jones criticized that decision.

“As a cast member of ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ and the owner of several ‘General Lees,’ I can attest that the car and our show reflect the very best of American values, and that Hazzard County was a place where racism was not tolerated,” said Jones, who played the mechanic Cooter on the show. “This action by NASCAR is a provocative and unnecessary overreaction to a problem that doesn’t exist. It is a disgraceful and gratuitous insult to a lot of very decent people.”

___

AP Sports Writer Luke Meredith contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Activism

Oakland A’s Star Tony Kemp Tells Us Why He’s Planting Trees, Messaging with Fans

For the 2021 baseball season, Kemp teamed up with a national organization and pledged to plant 100 trees in urban communities for every stolen base and extra-base hit he recorded.

Published

on

Oakland Athletics outfielder Tony Kemp in an undated photo. Kemp partnered with Breaking T to produce his +1 Effect merchandise. A portion of the sale proceeds go to the Players Alliance, a national organization committed to creating an inclusive culture within baseball. Photo courtesy of Tony Kemp.
Oakland Athletics outfielder Tony Kemp in an undated photo. Kemp partnered with Breaking T to produce his +1 Effect merchandise. A portion of the sale proceeds go to the Players Alliance, a national organization committed to creating an inclusive culture within baseball. Photo courtesy of Tony Kemp.

By Nick Marnell, Bay City News Foundation

Oakland A’s infielder Tony Kemp picked a great year to pledge a charitable contribution based upon his on-field performance.

For the 2021 baseball season, Kemp teamed up with a national organization and pledged to plant 100 trees in urban communities for every stolen base and extra-base hit he recorded.

Fortunately for the environment, Kemp, 30, produced the best season of his six-year major league career, compiling 27 extra-base hits and eight stolen bases to go along with a strong .382 on-base percentage. He was also one of only two hitters in the American League (with at least two plate appearances per every regular season game) to walk more often than he struck out.

“I’m glad I got the chance to play and show what I can do,” Kemp said.

The 3,500 trees Kemp donated were just the catalyst as PG&E, one of the team’s corporate sponsors, doubled down on the pledge “to further its support of environment and sustainability awareness,” company representative Lynsey Paulo said. “With PG&E’s donation, there will be 7,000 trees planted as part of this program.”

On Dec. 10, volunteers from the A’s, PG&E, the City of Oakland and various charitable organizations met at Sobrante Park in Oakland and planted 15 trees. Kemp said he will plant trees this spring in his hometown near Nashville.

One of Kemp’s partners in the tree planting venture is Players for the Planet, a national organization founded by former major leaguer Chris Dickerson. Players for the Planet asserts a goal of uniting professional athletes to create positive change for the environment. “Our programs are designed by the players so they can contribute wherever they see a need or opportunity,” Dickerson said.

“I always wanted to do a reforestation project,” Kemp said. Possibly as a giveback for the amount of lumber used in his profession? Kemp chuckled, but said his goal was much greater than replacing a handful of broken bats. “I’ve always cared about the planet. I’ve been an advocate for a recycling project for a long time. This one was a no-brainer.”

Dickerson agreed that Kemp is a committed activist. “Tony has been a tremendous advocate for giving back to the community,” he said.

Addressing systemic racism

Even though he is not a fan of confrontation, in summer 2020 Kemp became one of the most active ballplayers speaking out against racial injustice. Haunted by the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and the unfolding civil unrest, Kemp logged onto Twitter on June 5, 2020, and posted to his followers, then numbering more than 40,000: “Let’s be honest. It’s been a tough week. If any of you want to talk or want to be more informed don’t hesitate to ask me.”

That tweet prompted a series of one-on-one direct message conversations with friends, teammates and fans about systemic racism and his own life experiences as a Black man. Kemp then formalized these conversations into a campaign called the +1 Effect.

Explaining the name of his campaign, Kemp said he wanted his perspective to achieve a domino effect, of one positive conversation leading to another, and then another, through honest and respectful dialogue.

“I ask questions. Simple questions, and there is no yelling,” said Kemp, in keeping with his distaste of confrontation. “Those who yell the loudest, what are they trying to accomplish?”

Kemp shared portions of a +1 Effect conversation he had with a suburban white woman in Texas who wanted to do a better job of combating racism but feared that she had no platform.

“Of course, you have a platform and voice,” Kemp told her. “You can always be an influence and inspiration to those around you.” He went on to explain that undoing systemic racism “starts with calling out people for their offhand comments that they may not even realize are racially biased.

“Make it known that you will not tolerate racism or prejudice in any way,” he advised her, and recommended media for her to check out, including “The 13th,” Ava DuVernay’s documentary about racism in the criminal justice system; Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “1619” podcast on how slavery shapes American culture to this day; and Ibram X. Kendi’s history-driven guide “How to Be Anti-Racist.”

Supporting Black kids

Kemp also gives back through the Players Alliance, an organization of major league ballplayers who work to create an inclusive culture within baseball in order to promote racial equality and provide greater opportunities for the Black community. According to Society for American Baseball Research, since Jackie Robinson broke the color line starting with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, the percentage of Black players in the MLB peaked at 18.7% in 1981 and declined to less than 10% by the mid-2000s. In 2016, only 6.7% of major leaguers were Black.

“We’re trying to get Black players to mentor kids who can’t afford equipment to play baseball,” Kemp said. “Black kids look up to us, and we’re trying to help these kids understand that they can succeed in Major League Baseball.”

Kemp, though, is realistic about the slim chances for kids to make it to the big leagues, as Kemp himself fought through early life and career struggles. His parents divorced when he was 12. He was repeatedly optioned to the minor leagues while with the Houston Astros.

Kemp drew on his inner strength and closeness to his family — especially his older brother Corey — to help get him through the rough patches.

Corey told his brother that it was never going to be easy for him to succeed in athletics because Kemp was the little guy.

“They’re always going to be looking at the big guy,” Corey Kemp said. “You’ve got to keep a chip on your shoulder, get back out there and continue to perform.”

The advice worked. “I realized there will always be guys physically stronger than me,” said Kemp, who is 5-feet-6-inches tall and 160 pounds. “But they will never be stronger mentally.”

Understanding that the baseball hopefuls he mentors will need a fallback position should their baseball dreams flame out, Kemp imparted reality to the young athletes when he demonstrated the importance of a strong educational foundation at an Alliance event in Oakland.

“I got out a book and a baseball. I asked the kids to stand on each one and see which one provided more stability,” he said. “They got the message. I told them that getting a degree is always the end goal.”

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Oakland Planning Commission Approves A’s Stadium Project Environmental Study

Of the 53 public speakers at the meeting, 32 opposed approving the EIR, raising significant concerns about the impact of the project. Speakers included representatives of community organizations, spokespeople for major Port of Oakland businesses and the ILWU, the union representing Port longshore workers.

Published

on

Melody Davis speaks at a demonstration before the Planning Commission meeting at Oakland City Hall on Jan. 19, 2022, at a rally opposing Oakland A’s owner John Fisher’s real estate and stadium development of Howard Terminal. Photo courtesy of Gene Hazzard.
Melody Davis speaks at a demonstration before the Planning Commission meeting at Oakland City Hall on Jan. 19, 2022, at a rally opposing Oakland A’s owner John Fisher’s real estate and stadium development of Howard Terminal. Photo courtesy of Gene Hazzard.

By Ken Epstein

Billionaire developer John Fisher’s goal of building a $1 billion baseball stadium as part of a $12 billion real estate project on public land at the Port of Oakland took a significant step forward this week as the Oakland Planning Commission unanimously approved city staff’s final Environmental Impact Report, despite widespread community concerns.

While a victory for Fisher and Mayor Libby Schaaf, who is an outspoken proponent of the development, the Planning Commission vote on Wednesday is only a recommendation. The report will now go to the City Council, with a review expected to begin in February before a vote on approval.

City staff are still in the process of negotiating with the A’s corporation over the financial impacts and other issues that are part of a Development Agreement which ultimately must go to the City Council for approval.

While there were 227 attendees at the Zoom commission meeting, city staff had posted the wrong link to the meeting on the city’s Planning Commission webpage making it likely that many people were unable to watch or participate in the meeting.

Of the 53 public speakers at the meeting, 32 opposed approving the EIR, raising significant concerns about the impact of the project. Speakers included representatives of community organizations, spokespeople for major Port of Oakland businesses and the ILWU, the union representing Port longshore workers.

In their unanimous vote in favor of the 3,500-page document, commissioners brushed aside residents’ concerns about the flaws and omissions in the report, as did Schaaf, who seemed exuberant in a press statement announcing the commission’s decision.

“Tonight’s Planning Commission recommendation to send the final Environmental Impact Report on to the City Council for certification is a huge win for our entire region and puts Oakland one step closer to building a landmark waterfront ballpark district with the highest environmental standards,” Schaff said.

One speaker who raised concerns was Nathan Landau, transportation planner for AC Transit.

“Unfortunately, there are still some very serious unanswered questions on how this (project) will affect the AC Transit system,” he said. “We don’t see a document that addresses these things. (The
City) needs to dig deeper and develop an adequate transportation system” to support the proposed stadium.

Another speaker was Susan Ransom of SSA International, which handles 65% of the goods that go through the Port. She said the final EIR report was “speculative” presenting a “misrepresentation of the facts about water safety and maritime impacts,” which city staff has failed to discuss with the Coast Guard.

Before the project is finally approved, the Council must consider the General Plan Amendment, Rezoning, the Development Agreement and the preliminary development plan.

Approvals are also necessary from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and the State Lands Commission.

Gregory Hodge, candidate for Oakland mayor said, “Oakland’s physical and social infrastructure has deteriorated to the point of crisis. While we love our teams, we love our neighbors more. Paying their fair share is a tangible way for team owners to show that they love Oakland’s people more than making a profit.”

“What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander, the wise elders used to say. Let’s expedite an authentic community-driven process to bring fresh development ideas to the Coliseum neighborhood as we have seen in the latest round of supporting the A’s in their Howard Terminal effort. Our City’s administration owes that same level of expedience, efficiency and respect to AASEG (African American Sports and Entertainment Group).”

Loren Taylor, Oakland city councilman and candidate for mayor said, “Looking forward to having answers to questions addressed and answered before coming to council for a vote”

Continue Reading

Activism

Oakland Voters Reject Spending Taxpayer Money for A’s Howard Terminal Project

“As part of any major corporate development or sports stadium plan, local governments in California make the creation of a Community Benefits Fund part of the deal. This is money paid by the developers to fund important projects that local citizens identify, including addressing homelessness, affordable housing, crime prevention, and education programs. “How do you think the proposed $450 million Community Benefits Fund connected to the Howard Terminal Stadium project should be paid for?

Published

on

Oakland A’s logo
Oakland A’s logo

Two-thirds of voters would not support candidates who voted to spend taxpayer money on project

By Ken Epstein

A new poll of Oakland voters, conducted by a professional polling company, indicates that Oakland voters reject spending taxpayer money to build a new A’s stadium, retail and condominium project at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland.

Further, nearly two-thirds of voters say they would not support candidates for mayor or City Council who voted to spend taxpayer money for the Howard Terminal development.

The first question — without being presented any additional information — was: “From what you’ve heard or read, do you support or oppose the Oakland City Council spending taxpayer money to help build a new A’s baseball stadium next to the port at Howard Terminal.”

The results were 46% opposed, 37% in favor and 17% did not know.

Opposition was significantly higher among residents of Council districts 5 and 7, opposed by 56% to 36% in District 5 and 59% to 37% in District 7.

A’s fans — 53% of the electorate — supported using tax money 44% to 42%. Those who are not A’s fans were opposed to spending taxpayer money by 53% to 26%.

The results of the second question about who should pay community benefits was even more strongly in opposition to taxpayers footing the bill for the A’s corporation.

Here is the question:

“As part of any major corporate development or sports stadium plan, local governments in California make the creation of a Community Benefits Fund part of the deal. This is money paid by the developers to fund important projects that local citizens identify, including addressing homelessness, affordable housing, crime prevention, and education programs.

“How do you think the proposed $450 million Community Benefits Fund connected to the Howard Terminal Stadium project should be paid for?

“a) By the A’s because the project is being built using taxpayer money, and the team should pay their fair share of community benefits like all other developers do. OR

“b) By Oakland City taxpayers without any money from the A’s, because the waterfront development will create a new entertainment, work and residential destination while keeping the last professional team in Oakland.”

An overwhelming 81% to 15% said that the A’s should use their own money and not rely on taxpayer money to pay for the $450 million in proposed community benefits.

The next question asked was, “Do you agree or disagree with this statement: The City of Oakland should NOT spend over $800 million in taxpayer money to keep the A’s in Oakland when the city has other major needs like homelessness, affordable housing, and crime?”

The results: 69% agreed that the city should not spend over $800 million to keep the A’s in Oakland. Support for taxpayer spending drops from 37% to 27% when the “over $800 million” figure is presented.

In a separate poll question, 70% of Oakland voters said homelessness was one of their top two priority issues, followed by 60% who picked crime and 40% affordable housing. Only 5% said “losing pro sports teams” was a top problem.

Finally, voters were asked how this issue would impact their vote for mayor or City Council in this year’s elections.

The question: “After hearing this information, which of the following two candidates would you vote for in the next election for City Council or mayor in Oakland if their positions on other issues were the same?

“a) Candidate A who voted FOR spending over $800 million in taxpayer money for infrastructure improvements to make the Howard Terminal baseball stadium a reality. OR

“b) Candidate B who voted AGAINST spending any taxpayer money to support an A’s Stadium at Howard Terminal, even if the A’s may move out of Oakland. “

The results: Two-thirds (65%) said they support Candidate B, who voted against taxpayer money for the Howard Terminal Stadium, “even if the A’s may move out of Oakland.”

Support for Candidate A, who backed the spending of taxpayer money for the stadium stood at only 29%.

The poll, conducted by FrederickPolls, was released by the East Oakland Stadium Alliance. The sample size was 509 interviews of Oakland registered voters. The interviews were conducted Dec. 8-16, 2021. The margin of error was 4.4%.

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending