I am pretty excited to read Lucas’ interview with Rainmen owner Andre Livingston in Herald. Lucas put up a bit of a preview on his blog, including some stuff which won’t appear in tomorrow’s article about the ABA and other leagues. By the looks of it the article is going to be pretty awesome and will provide some biographic details on Levingston which I don’t think we’ve seen enough of.
There was one excerpt in particular from Lucas’ blog that I agree with in full. Read it and some of my thoughts after the jump.
I think he’s a great role model. Pardon me for going socio-political for a moment, but this province has a rotten history of race relations. Whether the average person wants to admit it or not, it’s still not easy to grow up black in Nova Scotia. A successful, self-made businessman like Levingston could be an inspiration to a lot of people. If anything, he should be taking a higher profile with the team, and others in the city should be seeking him out to speak at functions, serve on volunteer boards and generally be a presence in the community. My love of basketball aside, the main reason I hope the Rainmen stick around is because Halifax could use more people like Andre Levingston.
I have talked about this many, many times before. Growing up as a minority (my mother’s parents immigrated to Canada from China, my grandfather came over to work on the railroad) in Halifax I have seen first hand how brutal this province can be at times, and I think it’s much worse for African Nova Scotians. It’s not just the difficulties in finding jobs, or the poor state of schools in areas which are mostly African Nova Scotian, the systematic racism of our legislature (who can forget the treatment of Percy Parislast year?) and the documented cases of police harrassment against black youth – but it’s also the fact that blacks aren’t welcome when it comes to downtown entertainment. Simple things like finding something to do on a Friday night just aren’t as easy if you aren’t white. Many bars have implicit policies aimed at allowing them to exclude blacks, and public transit both stops running fairly early and does not properly service Preston, Churchill or North Dartmouth – areas with large black populations. (Public transit to these areas are key because cabs to any of these places are obscenely expensive and many people my age don’t have access to cars)
The only time I see African Nova Scotian faces downtown is at Rainmen games and I think that that’s telling and in many ways I think that is an important reason for this team to be in this city.
Lucas apologizes for bringing politics into a discussion of basketball and I have done the same in the past, but I don’t think it’s something he (or I) should have to do. Sports is a political activity. Virtually every pro and amateur sports team is propped up in some way by political decisions (direct subsidies, infrastructure construction and maintence, etc.) and even more importantly sports gives communities a sense of identity. Soccer has helped define working class consciousness from Northern England to Brazil to Russia. And in North America in the last 50 years no sport has meant more to an opressed people than basketball has meant to the black community. Period.