Lopez Family Faking History Instead of Making History
By: Deric Muhammad
Flag burning in America is illegal. It represents open disrespect to the founding fathers of this nation and the principles of liberty and justice that the flag supposedly represents. But, how would you feel if you saw someone burn an American flag with an Olympic torch? Probably the same way that I felt when I saw 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist Nia Abdallah robbed of her well-earned 2008 Olympic dreams after she steamrolled Diana Lopez in the April Tae Kwon Do trial finals.
It didn’t take an episode of CSI to determine that Diana, of the storied Lopez Tae Kwon Do family, was to be declared the winner even before the first kick left the ground. There was already much press generated about the Lopez clan being the first sibling trio to participate in the Olympics since 1904. Endorsement deals with At&t, Coca-Cola and other corporate giants were reportedly already pending. A Jay Leno Show appearance also took place shortly after the match. It made for great marketing juxtaposed to a tarnishing Olympic image marred by worldwide human rights protests. There is nothing wrong with making history, but there is something very wrong with FAKING HISTORY. And with the clear cooperation of the United States Olympic Committee that is exactly what they did. And if you watch the match for yourself, there is a 99% chance you will understand my nausea.
I say that because 99% of the thousands of web watchers who viewed the historic showdown declared Nia the hands-down victor. However, she will not be competing in Beijing this summer, because the Olympics like so many sporting games in America, is a farce nowadays. It is driven just as much by commerce as it is by competition.
Nia Abdallah is fierce competitor who, at the age of 4, promised her grandfather that someday she would win the Olympics. Through sheer hard work , discipline and determination she worked her way up the international ranks and earned that trip in ’04. She defeated opponent after opponent and earned a silver medal for her country not realizing that she was pregnant at the time. Imagine that. Once her beautiful daughter was born she began readying herself for the ’08 trials. Her days consisted of three or four grueling training sessions per day. Anyone who knows the demands that single motherhood places on a woman understands how difficult it is the keep a regimen like this. Nia Abdallah is more than just an Olympic champion. She is an inspiration to her community. And when you robbed her, you robbed us too.
As I said at the community rally supporting Nia, this case is a slap in the face to torchbearers like Jesse Owens and Wilma Rudolph who paved the way for the elimination of discrimination in the Olympics. Owens won four gold medals in 1936 in Germany during a time when Hitler was trying to prove the supremacy of Whites over non-whites. Since then Black people have been an intricate part of America’s celebrated status in Olympic competition worldwide.
Some may think that I am just a Black activist crying “racism”, because Abdallah is a Black woman. I am well aware that Diana Lopez and her family is Hispanic who, as followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, we believe are a part of the original family. But after viewing the fight in its entirety dozens of times, I am totally convinced that there was favoritism and prejudice. Prejudice and racism are not exactly the same. Racism is the thought process that leads to prejudice activity. To be prejudiced is to judge before the presentation of facts. And Deric Muhammad (that’s me) is absolutely convinced that before Nia Abdallah pressed her mouthpiece into her mouth to fight this fight it had been determined that she would not get in the way of the “Lopez Lie”. If Abdallah were German-Irish I would say that the outcome of the match was just as unjust.
This editorial is for parents and children across America who have Olympic dreams and are working hard to prepare themselves to meet that opportunity when it is presented to them. There is some youngster somewhere in urban or rural America doing laps as we speak in preparation for the 2020 Games. It is a dream deferred. But the bureaucracy involved can defer the dream permanently. At the end of the day it becomes, not about what you can do for yourself and your country, but what you can do for the USOC’s agenda. After Jesse Owens returned from Germany he had to resort to entertaining crowds by racing alongside horses, because he could get no endorsement deals.
Unfortunately, Diana and her family’s branding potential was more important than Nia’s sheer dominance of the sport of female Tae Kwon Do. It was more about marketing than martial arts. And to add insult to injustice the law makes is virtually impossible to effectively challenge the outcome of matches like this due to a rule of competition called “field of play”. Of course you can take the USOC to court, but by the time you gain any real legal traction, the Oympic games may have come around again twice. These laws create a blinding arrogance in the USOC that robs the American people of their voice regarding matters as such.
Myself, and the Millions More Movement Ministry of Justice are calling for a federal investigation by the House Judiciary Committee into the fight in question and the appellate process offered in sporting events such as these. There has to be a change in the law that protects athletes, regardless of race, creed or color, from having their dreams murdered in broad daylight.
One of the principle tenets of Tae Kwon Do is integrity. TKD athletes, enthusiasts and fans the world over are seething over this case. Support from as far as Korea and Japan has been shown to Ms. Abdallah. Diana Lopez is going to Beijing dishonorably and there is a fear that this match will represent a “black eye” for the discipline which only became an official Olympic sport in 2000. It is a baby in the games, but it has already been corrupted at the highest level.
If I were a TKD athlete in attendance of the Beijing games I would stand and turn my back as Diana Lopez walks onto the mat to compete. I would turn my back in remembrance of the tenets of TKD that the USOC turned their backs on when they robbed Nia Abdallah. The American people were stripped of the most qualified representative for that sport and weight class. It would be different if they left no fingerprints. I challenge the USOC to present an online public viewing of the fight and to give the American people an opportunity voice their concerns. I know that they will not do that considering they are scrambling daily to remove the fight from the web entirely. Why wouldn’t they want the public to see this match? Especially, since they aren’t removing any other Olympic trial videos from the web. You do the math.
Every time we lie, cheat, steal and turn our backs on “indivisible…and liberty and justice for all”, we are burning the American flag. In this case it was burned with an Olympic torch which is supposed to be symbolic of freedom. It was burned by those whom we entrusted to judge our affairs fairly. Injustice is the fire that burns the American flag. Justice is the water that extinguishes the fire.
Join the fight to support Nia Abdallah (wesupportnia.blogspot.com).
(Deric Muhammad is a Houston-based activist apart of the Millions More Movement Ministry of Justice and a member of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad can be reached at email@example.com.)