Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Open Letter to My City (Memphis)

Well, the University of Memphis Tigers were unsuccessful in the National Championship game. We can blame several factors: being outhustled most of the game, missed freethrows at the end, and failure to foul the Kansas player that made the three -point play that sent the game into overtime. Whatever the reason, we came up short. I was saddened and hurt by these events. I know, "But it's just a game, Markus!" Not to me. Memphis is my alma mater, the place where my mom, uncle Ray, aunt Mary, cousin Eugenia, and my cousin Narilyn gradauted from. I remember my mom's graduation from then-Memphis State. I remember competing in Mid-South Spelling Bees for three years straight from 6th-8th grade at good ol' Memphis State. I remember when the Tigers had a song on the radio back in the 80s. Yeah, the NCAA shut that down quick. I remember the 1985 Final Four...and our crushing defeat. I remember the 1992 Elite Eight team losing to Cincinatti, who had also beaten us three times previously in the season. I remember Larry Finch being fired, I remember Tic Price and his scandal, and I remember John Calipari coming to town. I also remember the 2002 NIT championship, the missed free throws in '05, and the '06 and '07 losses to UCLA and Ohio State. I remember every bad moment, but I remember the good times, too. I remember Penny Hardaway deciding to come to Memphis. I remember the excitement over getting DaJuan Wagner. I remember seeing Michael Wilson jump out the gym. Justin Wimmer taking what seemed like 10 charges a game, Lorenzen Wright dunking on people with reckless abandon, and this season, seeing CDR and Derrick Rose hold shooting clinics for unsuspecting opponents. I remember the hope and the promise of this season. The sadness of losing to UT (stinkin' Vols). I also remember the resolve and heart that the Tigers showed following that loss. I remember us beating Texas-Arlington, barely beating Mississippi State, destroying Michigan State, and handling Texas. I loved it last Saturday when we sent the great UCLA back home. I choose to focus on these times.

I loved the cameraderie that this greatly racially divided, crime-stricken city also showed. A Caucasian fellow saw me in my Tiger Blue on Sunday outside the Young Avenue Deli. He smiled and showed me a big photo of Chris Douglas-Roberts (CDR) in the paper. For a little while, my city seemed to come together, regardless of race, creed, or social standing. We all loved the Tigers, so we found a common ground. I also loved the way that people were out in full force yesterday when the Tigers came home. I love the attitude of most people who are saying that the Tigers are "Still #1" in our hearts. The only sad part is why does a sporting event have tobe the catalyst for that type of unity to overtake my city? Also, how long will it be before the class and racial divisions become visible again? Why is there so much crime and poverty and apathy over my city? Why is our school system a mess? Why are our elected officials constantly embroiled in scandal? What will it take for us to permanently come together. Memphians, let's continue this feeling of "togetherness". Let us not lose sight of the fact that we are all Memphians and that we all want our city to improve. Let's transfer all that positive energy and brotherhood into other areas that need to be addressed and make our city as great as it can be. Go Tigers, and Go Memphis!!!


At 9:55 AM, Blogger Mad Hatter said...

You have opened that 'View From The Middle', I would say from the middle of your heart. Everytime im in memphis I see the racial differences and wonder what is wrong sometimes. I can say that memphis will come together in emergencies. Im sure you have seen this after reading you post. It was nice to see the city together on the media, sorry I was not there the see the basketball team at the airport. I have some relatives that say there and they love the city. I will be there in May (Not on Beale St and the BBQ, my husband almost got into a fight with some guys for disrespecting me) I like your site. In and Out

At 12:21 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

I've often wondered if the racial tensions in Memphis were visible to visitors. After reading mad hatter's comment, now I know.

We all know that the unity will not last, but it was great to have it for that fleeting moment. At least we know that Memphis can be united, we just have to try harder.

At 7:50 PM, Blogger All Memphis Music said...

If you love Memphis, you will absolutely love

a great Internet radio station!!

At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Pensmoke said...

Good blog, for real. I am glad I came across it. I was just talking with a cat yesterday about all the racism still present in Memphis. We were talking about Dr. King and how he would probably feel about it. I love my hometown, I miss it all the time. But I don't miss the way it's still stuck in the 60's with the racism and voluntary segregation and embraces negative rap instead of positive hip hop. Anyway, it was good that everyone came together to support the Tigers. I was crushed when they lost. Always next year, I suppose.
God bless


At 7:14 AM, Blogger chrishaley said...

You said it, man.


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