by Mickey Dean, NBUF, introduction by Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Ma’at
Decades before our friend and former San Francisco National Football League star quarterback Colin Kaepernick found himself “unhireable” – for the “crime” of taking a knee to protest the rockets-red-glare-bombs-bursting-in-air “Star Spangled Banner,” theme song of continuing European white supremacist terrorism and racist murders – another gifted pro athlete was “white-balled” out of the National Basketball Association.
Mahmoud Abdul Rauf, European enslavement name Chris Jackson, was a nearly “unguardable” sweet shooting point guard for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets in the 1990s. Think of a unique baller like MVP Steph Curry… before there was a Steph Curry. Brother Mahmoud became an All-Star, scored a career high of 51 points in one game and once had 32 against Chicago Bulls while being defended principally by Michael Jordan.
After converting to Islam, Brother Mahmoud began his silent and private protest of the “Star Spangled Banner” anthem. And, for his heroic refusal to stand, Brother Mahmoud had his home burned down, lost millions of dollars in potential salary and endorsements, and was eventually forced to go to overseas to earn a fraction of his previous income.
In July, Brother Mahmoud keynoted the 38th Annual Convention of the National Black United Front in Kansas City, Missouri. Afterwards, this always brilliant and humble man sat down to share some further wisdom, experience and thoughts with Baba Mickey Dean of NBUF for the “What’s Up, KC?” show on the Cascade Media Group.
Mickey Dean: Hello, everyone. My name is Mickey Dean of the Kansas City Chapter of National Black United Front (NBUF). I am here with Brother Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who just finished speaking at the opening session our 38th Annual NBUF Convention. Brother Mahmoud, welcome to Kansas City.
Mahmoud Abdul Rauf: Thank you for having me. It’s nice to be here.
MD: Brother Mahmoud, what were some of the main points you wanted to impart tonight to our audience?
MAR: Well, some of my points were the importance of moving in a collective spirit, and not as individuals, and the challenge that one faces when we are fighting for something as valuable as freedom. There are always entities that are out there trying to see to it that the system of control will remain the way it is. Staying true to yourself and doing something always in the spirit that is bigger than yourself.
MD: Let me ask you this. I work with young boys and they often have questions about the role of athletes, particularly Black professional athletes, and their involvement in the struggle. We do see certain things happening and people taking a stand. For example, Michael Bennet [of the Seattle Seahawks NFL team] refused to go to Israel – and some others who are doing some things. How do you see it today and the role of Black athletes? Is it improving? Is it good? Is it not good?
MAR: I think you definitely have more athletes who are vocal. How powerful it will be will be determined by how we are able to sustain it. There’s this tendency that we will jump on things for a minute – and then we will let it go. Right now it seems like these types of things are fashionable.
And that’s my concern – that things will die down. But I’m hoping that they won’t. But I definitely think there’s some improvement in articulating what it is that concerns people and getting their voices out. The test is being able to sustain it.
MD: I want to reference one key point you made tonight regarding the importance of reading and research. A lot of people today are victim to the commercial media. They pretty much believe whatever they read. How important is doing independent research? And getting away from what politicians say? And what the commercial media is saying?
MAR: It is very important. You pretty much said it. There’s this tendency to read something on Google and figure it’s the “gospel truth.”
But going to the library, reading books after books and doing some serious investigation about what it is you’re reading is kind of becoming, in a sense, obsolete in the minds of many. But this is the only way I think you’re going to really have more of a concept of what is happening. More of an in-depth understanding of what is happening.
There’s this concept now called intersectionality of ideas. So being able to tie all that together and make sense of it – which is kind of fading in this type of society now.
MD: One last question: What is Brother Mahmoud up to these days?
MAR: I’m just trying to get better. In everything! I have five children that I spend a lot of time with. I’ve been traveling doing a little bit more speaking. Doing a lot of professional basketball training. Trying to diversify in terms of business. I’m with the Big 3. Right now Ice Cube – business owner, filmmaker, actor – and musician O’Shea Jackson have ex-NBA players playing basketball. So I’m just trying to stay productive.
MD: Brother Mahmoud, thank you so much for coming to Kansas City and being a guest of the National Black United Front. Really appreciate you. And I think the people tonight really appreciated you. Thank you.
This inner-view was transcribed by Baba Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Ma’at, a friend and comrade of Baba Mickey Dean for over 45 years. Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Maat advocates for power to the people politically, economically and culturally and is known particularly for his leadership in the struggle for reparations. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Cascade Media Group was on location at the 38th national convention of the National Black United Front at the Manual Tech Center in Kansas City, Missouri, with former NBA player Mahmoud Abdul Rauf. Mr. Rauf spoke about his decision to stand against injustice and making a life change to be more conscious. He was the keynote speaker Friday, July 7.