Dr. John Carlos: “Human and social rights have problems on worldwide bases”

Dr. John Carlos: “Human and social rights have problems on worldwide bases”

Simeon Gasparov for Trud Daily – http://www.trud.bg

Dr. John Carlos is a medaled USA Track and Field Hall of Fame athlete and Olympian. Competing in the 200 meters, he earned the Gold in the 1967 Pan American Games, and the Bronze in the 1968 Olympics. A record setter, Dr. Carlos led San Jose State to its first NCAA championship in 1969 with victories in the 100 and 220, and as a member of the 4×110-yard relay. He also set indoor world bests in the 60-yard dash and 220-yard dash at the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Dr. Carlos made world history during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico, when he took to the international stage during the medal ceremony and made a speechless statement, heard and seen worldwide. Winning the 200 meter, John Carlos accepted the Bronze medal at the Olympic podium wearing black socks and no shoes to represent impoverished people who had no shoes of their own, and raised a black-gloved fist crowning a bowed head to humbly reflect the strength of the human spirit. Carlos was joined in his statement by teammate and gold medalist Tommie Smith, and both were supported by silver medalist, Australian, Peter Norman who wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge.

– Dr. Carlos, you are one of the symbols of the protests for human and social justice in America from the 60’s. Why 40 years later, this struggle still continues today  in the country?

– I think this is happening not only in America. Human and social rights have problems on worldwide bases, not only here. We still deal with these issues, because we are very slow learners. And particularly slow learners, when it comes to the very tender areas to deal with, as race and economic relations. The power brokers do not want to have any discussion or a dialog with those who have no power, to resolve these issues. We have to keep driving it until they understand it. If we do not learn from the lessons from the past, we will be on the process of destroying the society, as we know it.

– I saw you few months ago at the Occupy Wall Street in Chicago. Why do you support the movement and what we, the people from Bulgaria can learn from it?
– First of all you have to understand that all these people at the Occupy Movement, are fighting for the same issues we were fighting in the 60’s. And the spectrum  now is getting bigger with all sources of ethnic groups that are getting involved in it as – Whites, Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics. Everybody is concern about, how their live will look like in a few years. Will they have jobs, will their kids go to college. Will they be able to pay the students loan, when there are not jobs. Will their homes be taken away, because can not pay the mortgage.

– Why there is so much violence on the streets of America. Only in Chicago for the past few weeks, around 20 people lost their lives? Where does it come from?
– It comes from a lot of areas. If you take an account, back in the 50’s, the ghettos across America were bombarded with drugs. They put a lot of heroin there, to have individuals to escape from the reality. To have escapism from the harshness of the life they had. People could not go to school, could not support their families, could not find a job and they started using the drugs to escape. Then in the process, while all of this was taking place, our kids, became confused and misused in terms of losing the values of the family unit. Because of the result, of the drugs use, the family unit was dissolved. Our kids started raising themselves alone on the streets and they got together into another unit called “gangs”.  To survive, they started selling drugs to all communities. And that brings upon the death among the people.
– How can this be resolved?
– The only way to solve it is trough the education. We have to start making them to have a better understanding and love to one another at a very early age. To make them have more tolerance and to start understanding the various ethnic groups and cultures. We don’t teach our kids here anything about what’s happening to the French men, the African men, or the Asian men.
– Does America have political desire to find a solution for it?
– We have individual efforts to try to solve it. So far, we do not have a collective body as the government or the board of education to say that this is a problem, that is affecting our society and we have to do anything to stop it. Until this happen, the problem is going to grow.
– I travel often around the United States, and more I travel, more I see this country divided instead of united. Why?
– Because we never really took the time to evaluate one another’s cultures and ethnicities. To think about how I feel about somebody morally or how I differ away from his values. That is why we need a dialog between the people from the different races and cultures.

 – Why issues that have been long forgotten in most of the developed world are still problem in the USA – as women’s rights, or separation of the religion from the state and schools?
– Because Americans are a very narrow pathway. There is no room to turn around and reflect on why we try to take God out of our schools, out of our coins and dollars. America feeds itself only on economic growth. As I said the scope is very narrow. When you sit back and think, who is God here? Is God the one that is going to be my savior, or is God, the one who is projected on these dollars and cents, because everything is based here on the dollars and cents in the Unites States. With respect of the women’s rights, the way of thinking is – if I give equal rights to women that mean I have to pay equal salary to a woman. So economics is involved and weaved all through this.

– Why there are so many people in American prisons – more than China?

– To suppress the people. People with the money instead of investing in colleges and universities invest in prisons, to suppress the people. We have so many  prisoners in the jails in America, because they train the prisoners, not to rehabilitate, but to return back into the jails.

– Was the President Obama able to deliver the change in America?

– Let me first make this clear, I think the president Obama has been the most disrespected president than any president in the history of this nation. The Republican Party has done anything humanly possible to degrade, to hold him back, and to smear him. To disguise the efforts he is trying to do to bring this society forward.

– Why do they do this to him?

– I think they do this primary because he is a black democrat. We have had white democrats, but the republicans have not done the same things that they have done to Obama.

– Do you think President Obama will be reelected?

– I think Obama has very strong chances to be re-elected, because the American people are not naïve as they were in the 60’s. If he is reelected, he will be able to accomplish a lot more, to make us a better society.

– How the rise of the radical conservatives in the US will affect the world if they win the elections in November?

– When we look back and see where the conservatives, under George Bush has put us, you realize why the world is in such a social and economical turmoil right now.

– As a member of the Olympic movement how do you see the future of the Olympic Games. Are you familiar with the Bulgarian achievements in the games?

– To be honest with you I am not that focused on the Olympic Games as much as I used to. Because they were so watered down from the quality of the competition they used to be. During the 60’s every athlete was a threat. Now it is almost pin pointed who is going to be the winner 3-4 years before the Olympics. I think Pierre De Coubertin could be proud of his achievement and whenever his soul could be, he does not his Olympic Games to be tarnished in terms of bad reputation.

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