Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Just because I'm brown

I had this officemate before... JR was his name. He was a large black man, 6'2" maybe. He could have played American Football somewhere because he fits the bill in terms of his physique. Maybe he was aware of that that's why he was a bully. He was mean to everyone except the Puerto Ricans and Mexicans (could be he knew that these hombres were tougher than him). Jorge who was from Tijuana was a small guy who was absolutely fearless. I knew someone like him back in school. But unlike JR, he was cool. Jorge and I later explored the underground fight circuit in Brookyln.

I'm getting ahead of my story. I never liked JR and oft would get steamed at him. The one thing you have to learn quickly and to adopt is a long line of patience. If you're in short supply of that then I suggest you go get some and it's not at the Dollar Store in your neighborhood.

What made things worse was JR was a racist. How can a black man be a racist? But he was to Asians and Middle Easterns. I worked in a place that was multi-cultural. And in the melting pot that is New York, you have to be all the more careful of what you say. One time I was on my way to the bathroom when he barred my way and let my other officemate go first. "White women first, bleeping Asians last."

I sort of lost it and told him to go where the sun don't shine. Well, in less polite terms. My cousin who is quite adept at taekwondo wanted to kick the living crap out of him.

There are a few other incidents including dating a white girl and let me tell you that experiencing racism is something else. I can't quite put a finger to it except that it isn't pleasant and it inflames a different kind of anger and passion. I remember during Puerto Rico Day, many of the stores were boarded up in case some looting or rioting breaks out. That brought the Puerto Rican community up in arms because that was associating them with thieves and unsavory folk.

Being Filipino. What I do remember the most was when they'd say, "Oh, so you're Filipino" was take your pick...Manny Pacquiao, maids and OFWs, corruption, and TNTs. Not in that order. Somewhere along the way, they'd concede a "hard working and talented" that somehow doesn't balance the scales totally.

I ran with a multi-ethnic group choosing to do so because I thought it was more cool to learn different cultures. We had an Egyptian, Jamaican, American, Puerto Rican, Latino, and African in the group. The fun thing was we all got along so well and learned from each other a lot. From language (and cuss words), political views, religion, and sampling everyone's cuisine. Cusine. Once we even tried out an Ethiopian restaurant in Greenwich Village (we joked that the rice was from the UN). That was a blast.

That brings me to Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand's blast versus FIFA for not being stringent enough on racist incidents in football that continue to this day. Yes, it's a sad fact despite the international nature of the game, these incidents although not as common as it was several years ago still happen. The rising ticket prices and the more family nature of the stadia and terraces has shown a marked difference in those who go to football matches. But it's a damn shame.

I honestly don't know what to think of FIFA. Docking clubs of chump change isn't enough. They should take away home field advantage in international competitions, bust them up several huge points, and well, make them play closed door matches. Hit them where it hurts too -- in their wallets and in the game they supposedly love. English clubs were banned for several years from European play. Why can't the same be done for these countries?

The fact that it happens in places like Spain and makes my blood boil. And Spain... when you think how they treated Filipinos when we were a colony. That was a long time ago but 300 years is a long, long time.

Watch this video from ESPN. It was done several years ago but even as Rio Ferdinand made his comments yesterday, you can see how it is still bloody well alive in the world today.

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