OPINION: Athlete activism will grow in face of continuing violence in U.S.

by | Dec 4, 2020 | Opinion

There are people in the world who preach the idea that sports and politics should not be mixed, including so-called experts like Fox News host Laura Ingraham in her 2018 rant against Lebron James.

But this stance is confusing when considering how many great role models there are in the sports world.

It feels like Black athletes’ voices have never mattered as much as they do now, breaking from being silenced from having opinions on political issues, silenced from having a voice on social issues.

There are numerous challenges to being a Black athlete in America, and there are even more challenges being Black in everyday life, but a Black athlete’s voice gives us hope.

African american girl  standing indoors and looking at the camera. She's showing an message that says Stop Racism on her hands.

African-American girl showing a message saying Stop Racism.

During the summer athletes across the major leagues decided to put Black Americans before themselves, a choice stemming from the shootings of Jacob Blake and George Floyd and the violence against countless other Black men and women across the U.S.

On Nov. 27, the United States women’s national soccer team took the pitch for a friendly against the Netherlands with “Black Lives Matter” emblazoned across the front of their jerseys.

This is not the first example in 2020 of messages written on jerseys, sometimes, like in the NBA’s case, replacing the athletes’ last names, letting everyone know this is bigger than sports.

The problem is that even with these inspiring messages, there will still be some who look down on both the Black Lives Matter movement and the Black community in general. But in the face of the uneducated, we will continue to persevere.

Sports has the power to change the world, to change a life. Sports has created opportunities for so many across the world and has given a sense of empowerment to young people and athletes who will be the next generation to shape the world.

Sports and politics will continue to mix as long as athletes use their platforms, as they should, to highlight social issues like racial equality and police brutality. This is a fact detractors will have to wrap their heads around because it is not going anywhere.

Marian Anderson, an African-American opera singer and who was a prominent participator in racial politics in the 1950s and ’60s, said we’re only as strong as our weakest links.

“No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger than it’s weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him, down so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise,” she said.

Protests won’t ever be enough without action from the white community. Raising fists in solidarity can only do so much, but sadly I know not every community will be behind the Black community in fighting systemic racism, institutionalized racism, and police brutality.

More names will be added to the seemingly endless list of dead African-Americas, victims of systemic racism, even as we try to shorten it.

As we continue to garner a bit more help, there’s still so much work to do, but I believe we’ll get there, whether in my lifetime or another.

Say their names.