Jacob Blake: Awakening Silent Athletes
Navigating the “Land of the Free” After Jacob Blake
As I sit here stewing over the shooting of Jacob Blake and wondering, “What can I do to be part of the solution to make this circumstance a non-issue?”Well, I do not have an answer to that as of yet. But, when I watch sports and observe the methods that athletes are speaking out against social injustice, police brutality, systemic racism, education reform, and voter suppression it makes my heart smile. Athletes have taken the floor and the mic, making America re-evaluate the plight of Black people in the “land of the free.”
Full disclosure, I am a 22-year Air Force vet and if I could I would do it all over again because I love this country that my grandfather and my uncle fought for. Joining the family business. When Colin Kaepernick knelt and he demonstrated why I did not take offense to his gesture. It made me want to kneel as well. I am black. I am a vet but more importantly, I am a father of 2 black sons. But I am a black man FIRST!
Racial Inequality Documented Within Sports
Kaepernick lost his career because of his gesture and was “white balled” by the NFL and its 31 white owners because his gesture affected their bottom line (AKA the money going in their pockets.) Recently, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confessed that the league was wrong in not talking to Kap and by not practicing a more vested concern in the issues he had addressed.
The NBA has provided its players a platform to speak on social issues. When Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, the players donned hoodies as a sign of protest. The athletes once again voiced their displeasure after Eric Garner was killed via an illegal chokehold by wearing “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts.
Fast forward to today and you’ll see Major League Baseball, WNBA, Soccer teams worldwide, Golf, and finally NASCAR taking stances against these issues. NASCAR, a sport that features just one black driver, has taken major steps to become an inclusive sport by banning the confederate flag which had become nearly synonymous with the sport. Later, a noose was found in Darrell “Bubba” Wallace’s garage and NASCAR did not hesitate to launch an investigation and the drivers showed solidarity and support of Bubba.
Some groups of people want athletes to “Shut Up & Dribble” and in their next breath also want them to be role models. Although athletes are compensated for their talent, many come from impoverished conditions. So they can empathize with their communities that are being impacted by police brutality and social injustice. The days of the silent athlete are long gone and we as fans shouldn’t be silent either.
Opening the Conversation
As I am typing this, the NBA and WNBA have postponed all scheduled games today as a result of the shooting of Jacob Blake. A few MLB games have been postponed as well.
Sports and the military bring people of all colors, races, sexual orientations, and religions together to accomplish team goals. Achieving individual success on the way is simply icing on the cake.
To all those who are reading this, it is time to have those uncomfortable conversations with your friends of other races, the conversations should be teaching tools on how we can come together as one race, the human race!
In closing, I want to quote Benjamin Franklin who said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”