What Happened To The Black Athletes Voice?
Curt Flood, Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown: These are not on the most famous names in history list for what the did in their respective sports alone. Those men defined a consciousness that brought the movement of equal rights for black people into the living rooms of america, via the platform that sports provided them. They were outspoken and strong in their support of the issues that challenged black peoples in america and abroad. They questioned injustice and they risked what little monies they made, compared to today’s salaries, and whatever access into the mainstream they had gained. They made a great difference in a time when news was still disseminated through print media, and primitive television networks.
Fast-forward to 2014 and lets do a roll call: Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Floyd Mayweather, Kobe Bryant. Although these names create images in our heads of spectacular replays, sneaker sales and opulent living, they do not inspire any thought of black consciousness or willingness to support the issues concerning their people or peers. You would be hard pressed to go one day anywhere in the world without hearing one of today’s sports superstars names. Unlike the men of old, today’s athletes have the extraordinary ability to reach not only the minds of America but thought world wide
Therein lies the problem. With today’s twenty four hour news cycles filled daily with stories of injustices to black people especially black men and boys, our so-called heroes are conspicuously absent. Yeah..We get a defiant selfie or a milk toast tweet here and there but other than that nothing. If we take the kid gloves off, It wouldn’t be too far fetched to use the word cowardice when describing these guy level of non-activity.
I mean really think about it. What has Lebron James, from the ghetto of Akron, Ohio said about the Micheal Brown case? What were Kevin Durant’s, from bloody Baltimore Maryland, feelings about the choking death of Eric Garner at the hands of Police? Have you heard of Derick Rose and Dwayne Wade, both from the war zones of south side Chicago, leading any stop the violence rallies or campaigns…no? Even in situations where their manhood was being attacked directly, like when Donald Sterling the now former owner of the LA Clippers, was caught talking about them as if they better be appreciative slaves to he and his ruling class of owners, they did nothing. Why? Why are our Black Athletes missing from the equation, because surely reporters trample each other nightly to get an exclusive of whatever these guys utter? Not only that, each also holds the power to reach millions of adoring followers personally and instantaneously via the phone in their pockets.
Is it fear? Are they afraid that taking a side that makes white people uncomfortable will take food off their tables, even though some have already made enough money to cover generations to come? Is it ignorance, a unknowing due to the lack of any true educating along the way, as their athletic skill allowed many to bypass the academic requirements placed on those not so physically gifted? Or, is it just plain apathy; the same i don’t care attitude that pervades generation next and the rest of the Y.O.L.O crowd. Whatever the reason it makes these grown men look like million dollar babies and reinforces old stereotypes; the ones that hold that they’re no more than well conditioned beast being payed to play a child’s game.
Each successive generation is supposed to build on the advances of the former and be a better version of the old. the heroes of old sacrificed for much more than the ability to hold up the product and smile. Today’s Black superstars are the beneficiaries of those who’s careers were artificially shortened and who’s reputations were forever tarnished or completely destroyed, due to the stances they took. They are all truly blessed, but those blessing come with responsibility. These guys are heroes to our children, and whether we like or not, our children take their cues from them right or wrong. What are we teaching our little black children when we tell them its okay to pattern themselves after an opinion-less KD or Kobe? What is the deeper psychological impact that’s being done to those young minds who follow their lead or complete lack thereof? To whom much is given much is required, right? I’m not saying its there duty to champion every cause or to run out and comment every time something happens concerning our people. But, to continue to do and say seemingly nothing time after time …C’MON man!