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Vivir es Increible

team1
Triqui/Trique Indian boys basketball team
Picture credit:  Unknown

Orlando was blessed to have many fine young athletes in town this week for a Basketball event, and one of the teams that made the news this morning on our local station, WESH TV was from Mexico.
Nothing new here, or was there?
This team of fairly small boys, as far as basketball players go, played without shoes.
But, this is not unusual for them, as they nearly always do so.

These boys come from one of Mexico’s poorest regions, a tiny place in the mountains of Oaxaca, that range from 4,000 to nearly 10,000 feet and the inhabitants are called the Trique/Triqui people, a blended group of Mixtec,   (place of cloud-people), who are known for their beautiful weavings.

This area and these people, are not new to me, as one of my favorite Anthropology Professors at CSUN, had related his summers there, for the past 20 plus years.
Every year, he would travel down to Oaxaca to spend a month with the people, then wrote and brought back what he learned about them to his students.

Years later, when I traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, I felt that there were strong similarities between it and many places in Oaxaca.
They were both poverty stricken areas, that few outsiders came to and even fewer cared much about.

This young team makes news every time they play, mostly for their lack of shoes, but what people don’t understand is that their lack of shoes, are the least of their worries.
So many where they come from, are desperately poor, with food, shelter and personal safety at the top of their daily wants/needs list, and going without shoes, much lower on it.

Native or Indigenous Mexicans, are at a poverty level of about 80%, compared to the National level in the upper 20’s.

Many of these young players must walk two hours or more, on rough mountain roads just to get to their practices, and Basketball is about the only sport that can be played in such a difficult terrain.

For me personally, the hardest part of relaying this story to all of you, is in knowing that the country where these brave young players live, is in constant turmoil from outside political pressures.

A friend from school traveled down there years ago, quite concerned about the way the people were being treated and was never seen again.

“Accidents” can happen, to those who ask too many questions, or get too curious about local politics.

Just playing their games, must seem like great relief after enduring the conditions that surround them.

Whenever the team travels, they basically have become ambassadors for their people, and the state of Oaxaca, and Global generosity to them and their town, have followed them everywhere.

Their Head Coach Sergio Zuniga, was interviewed by WESH and his pride in their achievements was clearly evident as he spoke.

This week in Orlando, not only was the team gifted with shoes, so was their entire town.

Yes, back home things are very difficult, but as their Team jackets say, ” Vivir es Increible, life is incredible.”

Places to learn more:

Mexican youth basketball team plays shoeless in Orange County tournament

Hoop dreams of Mexico’s indigenous youth provide hope in ‘forgotten’ region

It’s Triqui to play around: Shoeless Mexican team plays exhibition match in LA

Youth Mexican Basketball Team Wins Big Playing Barefoot

Mexican Shoeless Basketball Champions Prove It’s About How You Play, Not What You Have

Trique People – Wikipedia

A History of the Triqui People

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Racism Hurts

LAMemorialColiseum_
The LA Coliseum, home to many memories~
Picture credit : InSapphoWeTrust

 

After living in LA for more than 30 years and going with my family to every conceivable sport venue repeatedly, this story about the racist owner of the Clippers,  hurt in so many ways.

It made LA look bad,  and LA  Sports look bad,  it was/is just plain ugly.

We are speaking of a huge sports loving family here: Hockey, Football, Baseball and of course,  Basketball games.

And, LA has a team for everyone!

We loved it all and it was a huge part of my family’s lives there for many, many years.

Going to any of these games was a joy for us all and if racism was part of it back then, we were not aware of it.

So, seeing all of the sad, vicious,  ugly words running amuck on the News all week,  leaves me questioning and wondering about the future of our species and of sports in general.

Yes, agreed,  this man has serious mental issues that only  he and his God can solve, but in my opinion, what the press and so many experts seem to be missing is, it isn’t just in sports, it is NOT  just an NBA Issue, racism and the evil it brings are still very much alive, not only in America, but all over the world.

Try to find a place without it.

LA has,  to be sure,  seen its fair share of racism exposed for the world to witness.

The riots in Watts in the 60’s,  the beating of and then the trial and its mess surrounding Rodney Allen King in 1991.

I can tell you that living in Simi Valley on the day that those policemen were found not guilty was terrifying.

I had to show my ID to the Police standing on the off ramp that day just to get home.

The riots that followed were just another mess that we had to deal with.

But, somehow,  we survived and I can speak only for me on this, I have been in every part of Southern California over my 30 years there and never felt that racism was going to do us in.

It seemed to me like we saw the problem and reacted to it,  then resolved to try to get it  right, when it was exposed.

Yet, here we are, so many years after all of this and racism still unbelievably,  exists in so many parts of this country.

I have seen its ugly face and know it how it works.

My best friend lives in Mississippi and every time that I go to see her,  there it sadly is,  still alive and well.

Blacks there are still treated badly and are still living with this ugly word.

It is still in existence here in Florida, in Orlando several times recently, KKK propaganda has been put into plastic bags,  tied to a rock and thrown into yards in all black neighborhoods.

So, now what about this sad man who has been slapped down by the NBA Commissioner for the ugliness and evil that lives in his heart?

I do not know him, so I can only speak to what is in the Press.

He has made generous donations to many groups all over LA for years, some now want to,  or have already, given his money back.

His reputation in LA is split.

Some hate him, some don’t.

But if you take his money, can you still call him names?

A bit two-faced I think?

But this much I do know.

LA is not a place where this will EVER be allowed to exist without a response to this kind of evil.

And now that the Commissioner has responded with his punishment, perhaps it may be time for all of us to look into our own hearts and say,   ” Am I a racist? “

” Do I secretly harbor ill  feelings toward those of color?”

If the answer on any level is yes, perhaps this nightmare could be cathartic for us all.

Maybe the surfacing of all of this hate of color,  could help us to be more tolerant,  to openly accept and care for each other, with no regard for color or race.

Hating,  takes so much energy, so much more than acceptance, loving and kindness.

We Humans, as a species,  have been here long enough to have settled this already.

So, why haven’t we?

The answers are not on TV,  in the News, in a book,  or even in our Religious facilities, the answers are in our hearts.

So I will only ask this in conclusion, what is in our hearts?

 

 

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