“The Athlete Negro-The Awakening” A Revolutionary Masterpiece!!!

A Great Read: Dr. Dick Barnett’s The Athlete Negro – The Awakening


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A Great Read: Dr. Dick Barnett’s The Athlete Negro – The Awakening By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting one of the greats in NBA History, and one of the amazing brothers who led the New York Knicks to their championships Black in the day – none other than Dr. Dick Barnett.


He was being hosted at a book signing of his book, THE ATHLETE NEGRO – The Awakening, which was held at Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine in Manhattan. Dr. Barnett had broken several records on the basketball court over the course of his career, but subsequently, after retiring in 1973, returned to finish his education and garner a PhD in Education in the process. So I was looking forward to seeing what his book, The Athlete Negro – The Awakening, would impart.

I guess I was expecting something along the line of the Forty Million Dollar Slave by William C. Rhoden; or some of the books that have emerged as of late dealing with issues that athletes face in terms of creating their own destiny – or the “who’s the boss” issues they have with the owners of the sports franchises they play for.

The fact that Black athletes have money, but no power and no final say over the use of their images, interactions and engagement – or that, for the most part, while they are they key commodity, their agents, “owners” and investment advisers are 99.44% white. In fact, in the echelons of management, ownership and marketing, all of which represent high stake multimillion dollar opportunities, Black input and involvement is either invisible or completely absent. Of course Rhoden’s book was 100% accurate; his analyses compelling, as are so many others that have emanated since his breakthrough have been – but it’s done little to move the needle of progress forward.

Great panels of discussion have emanated from 40 Million Dollar Slave, and there are some organizations that are beginning to at least address the financial capacity of athletes, but by and large, as a movement among the athletes, little has happened. And unfortunately, after a point, the stats and complaints, and quotes on one book, or on one panel, begins to sound pretty much like what you’ve heard on another panel. I.e. a cliche`.

So I was surprised and delighted to find that Dr. Barnett had taken an altogether different tack in dealing with issues of the future financial viability of ex-jocks as they face a world after the cheering stops. Not only was I delighted, I found that I couldn’t put the book down. It’s such a great read! It’s got an unorthodox format, one given of a man who tends to write and spout poetry spontaneously – something else you don’t often find among our athletes (well, at least not so they’d let us know about it).

Dick Barnett took his considerable vivid imagination and applied it to an issue that has been plaguing athletes across the spectrum – regardless of whether it’s the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB or Soccer – and gave it legs, personality, energy, dialogue and environment! He then took the issue and put his characters right in the middle of the situation – both protagonist and antagonist – and formulated some of the most amusing character names to further prick the imagination. Then he had them interact with and against each other in the pursuit of, or prevention of, Athletes amalgamating their talents and dollars to control the biggest industry in the world – SPORTS.

The Athlete Negro – Potential Citizen of the World: The Awakening is part of a trilogy, per Doc Barnett, and one which just might be coming to the big screen if he and Spike Lee can raise the necessary production funds. I can’t wait to see who they select to play Sam Belvadere!

It’s so avant guarde in its technology, that some of the weaponry depicted in the book probably hasn’t been invented yet – which makes Dr.Barnett a great science fiction writer.

The sartorial commentary throughout the book describing everything – down to the necktie, shoes and socks – tells you that not only did the story’s hero, Sam Belvadere, maintain quite a wardrobe, but that Barnett has a great deal of knowledge when it comes to style. It also gives a peek into the organized and disciplined manner in which many athletes comport themselves. I can’t remember the last time I

laid out my wardrobe before going to bed; and it would take several changes in the morning before I finally made up my mind. It all speaks to the methodical, analytical, discipline focused, and purpose driven nature of Belvadere, making him a master strategist.

There are references to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the sixties, and the epic fight between Jack Johnson – first Black heavyweight champion of the world – and Jim Jeffries the “great white hope,” making Dr. Barnett a knowledgeable Black historian.

The outline of the corporation and it’s holding, and well as the organizational chart also shows that Dr. Barnett knows a thing or two about high finance – and may well a genius in his own right when it comes to consolidation and amalgamation and international corporate financial formulations.

The unusual names of the characters in the story line, not only capture your imagination, but are an accurate depiction of who they are and what they’re about. You can almost see them in your mind’s eye. When the antagonists of “Iwanto DoRight” corporation finds out that Black Ball Bloc Inc. is preparing to consolidate Black athletes so they can better invest in, and control, their own monies, finances, contracts, lives and destinies, they bring out the bad guys – Cloak A. Dagger Pres. of the Skeleton Agency, Super Jock and others to put a stop to it. Guaranteed you will not forget these characters!

In the meantime Sam Belvadere, with his alliance; and Yamandi, an African American/Japanese beauty (thereby bringing together two of the worlds most alluring feminine ideals, Black and Japanese) operate in a panache of high roller, high stakes, counter espionage, no holds barred ventures and corporate moves – jockeying for the emancipation of the soul of the Athlete Negro.

Underneath all the intrigue, the conspiracies, the threats, a master plan is unfolded so that the reader vicariously learns the lessons of empowerment Dr. Barnett has been able to impart much more indelibly than any book on economics by John Maynard Keynes; any cultural nationalistic movement; or from any of the speeches, in depth writings, or diatribes by other financial/cultural/ intellectual/nationalistic gurus.

The message is loud and clear: Black athletes have the capacity and responsibility to come together, use their largesse to solidify their own lives and simultaneously be of help to the people of their communities – and by doing so they all win. That fame and fortune are but one step in the rung on the ladder of ongoing, ever lasting, success – and when it’s managed appropriately, shared intelligently, invested wisely, all prosper. As Sam Belvadere stated: “I’m sure some of you will agree with me that the potential power and influence of Black professional athletes, beginning with this group assembled here, have not been utilized; even considered, and never pursued on a serious basis. We intend to change all that. We have not turned our individual successes into benefiting anyone beyond ourselves, and our immediate families…”

Other groups and nationalities, coming from much humbler beginnings, have proven this to be true and have succeeded in America by consolidating their efforts because a rising tide raises all boats. But will this work in the ego-driven, performance based, luxurious world of the Black athlete, who is accustomed to having his every whim indulged, being the center of photo opps, quips and quotes, and images that place him (or her) pretty much on the level of a demigod?

Can it be done? And can they do it?

The premise, to paraphrase Yamandi (Black and Japanese and beautiful), and heroine of the story, the Black Ball Bloc Inc. “has evolved out of frustration, distrust, and a whispering campaign that says that Black professional athletes don’t have the intellectual capacities to balance their own checkbooks, and can’t think for themselves. Word on the street and in the video studios of TV networks is {that} Black professional athletes can perform above other athletes worldwide, but all we know how to do is run and jump, not think, reason, and make decisions that will vastly affect our lives. They believe we can’t come together as a group to become a mega-billion dollar conglomerate and become world citizens.”

The Athlete Negro also serves as an an extremely positive role model for the countless thousands of young would-be, and up and coming athletes who are looking for that rise to fame -that adrenalin rush to become that one in a million. The reality in the realm of jockdom (Yeah, I made it up – I think Dr. Barnett might be rubbing off on me) is that it does not last forever – that there comes a time when the cheering stops, they are no longer sought after, and the super hero athlete must once again return to the ordinary world of mortal men and women. When they are no longer, heralded, traded, or are the darlings of the endorsement and autograph seekers, what’s their next move. What do they do when the spotlight moves on?

Dick Barnett skillfully, playfully and graphically takes you through the scenarios so that you find yourself engaged with the characters and waiting to see what’s gonna happen next! And interlaced throughout the story line are teachable moments, blueprints of how to get it done; how to make it happen; how to – step by step -, move forward and bring the strengths and talents of these athletes under one umbrella organization. And by extrapolation, the possible relevance for Black people who are not in the realm of sports and entertainment, but who admire and emulate them in their own lives, may find some applicability as well.

Interspersed throughout the story is the intrigue of what happens when an empire is threatened; and how to thwart those who feel threatened by Black Athletic autonomy. DoRight, who has been a major player in representing these athletes for years, like many others of his level, is accustomed to calling the shots, and is afraid of loosing his bread and butter. He will stop at nothing to prevent their success.

What an adventure! And of course you know I’m not going to give the whole story away – just wanted to whet your appetite. The Athlete Negro is right on time and absolutely right on point.

While there were a few typos and grammatical issues that I, as an editor, have to mention, that did not take away from the overall impact and importance of this book. The story line overrides those minor issues, which can easily be dealt with in an update or revision.

And, as Dr. Barnett stated, this is a trilogy! I can’t wait for part two to see where he’s going to take us next.

It’s both an easy and intense read – he’s interwoven these characters in such a way that you feel yourself a part of the story. Now, of course, I’m waiting for the romance – and, yes I did ask and was informed that it’s in part two of the Trilogy – and if it’s as good as the first book, it should be dynamite!!

Kudos to Dr. Dick Barnett. If you’re interested in acquiring a copy, you can email:
Sportscope2@gmail.com or issuesandsports@aol.com
This is a read you’ll want to share with friends – enjoyable and enlightening – and above all inspiring.


Dr. Dick Barnett

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