On July 8th , 2016 New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony wrote a rather lengthy instagram post regarding police brutality and the current racial issues dividing america. He stated that the system is broken and we have to put pressure on the people in charge in order to receive justice. Carmelo also posed a challenge to other athletes to stand with him in the fight for equality. Carmelo was absolutely correct in everything he said. 5 days later, on the 2016 ESPYs stage Carmelo, Lebron James, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade did an intro regarding the topics of racial profiling, police brutality, and gun violence. This stand that these popular athletes are taking does raise awareness and is a positive thing for the world to see, but the black community has been pressuring black athletes to take a stand on these issues for years before this occurred. So I must ask the question, Are black athletes required to speak on social issues concerning the black community?
When the black community does put pressure on athletes, they always point to the courageous athletes of the past such as Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell etc. Those men stood up in a time when they faced insurmountable odds, and risked their celebrity, their financial well-being, and their lives by doing so. If athletes of today stand up they may lose a few endorsement deals but they won’t be facing even near the odds that those athletes of the 60’s faced. Muhammad Ali sacrificed his profession during his prime years to stand up for his people. The black community would like some of that same courage to come from today’s athletes. Honestly, can you blame us for wanting that? sports makes so much money, and if black athletes who dominate sports can take a stand and boycott certain things, it would really put a halt financially in some major corporate institutions.
The only problem is ,sadly a lot of black athletes may not be as socially conscious as they should be. Although I do want awareness of our condition to rise, I do not want black athletes to feel required to do this. It has to come from the heart. An athlete like 2-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry has been well-off all of his life, and has a former NBA player as a father, so it’s very likely that he really hasn’t experienced the racial profiling and injustice we speak of. I wouldn’t necessarily want him to speak about something he has no passion for. Muhammad Ali had passion about what he stood for based on his religious beliefs and his personal experiences. Same goes for Kareem, Paul Robeson, Jim Brown, and everyone else.
NBA and NFL players hitting corporations in the pockets where it hurts would be remarkable for the movement. But simply put that’s not going to happen if our athletes do not have passion for the cause. I believe, instead of asking our athletes to take a stand, we should first strive to educate them in regards to our plight and why we’re so angry. I say, this because we all know this country has never truthfully taught us our history, and a lot of athletes simply might not be engaged as we are in the movement. We should strive to educate all individuals of color in regards to our history, and why it’s a necessity to stand up to injustice.
When we do that we won’t have to ask them to take a stand, they will do so willingly.