The dialectic within the sports realm over activism, as well as the validity of the phrase "Black Lives Matter," continues to gain increased coverage as several prominent professional athletes from varying fields of play speak out in favor of Black Lives Matter, take a middle of the road approach in trying to satisfy their fans, or blatantly lambaste the movement all together by using such terms as "All Lives Matter."
Indeed, as has been mentioned at The Shadow League exhaustively, if all lives mattered then there would be no need to point out the ghastly statistics surrounding a culture of violence against people of African descent in America.
It should go without saying that Black Lives Matter. However, with every rising sun the nation awakens to yet another individual moved to dog pile on BLM and all like-minded movements. But there are also those who're finding their voice as well.
Recently, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett stood before the press at training camp adorned in a 'Black Lives Matter' t-shirt and called on his fellow NFL players to take cues from the NBA and WNBA to address social issues.
"In the NBA, everybody is standing up for it, so the greatest players are in the forefront of the movement," Bennett said Saturday.
He also licked some serious shots at the NFL's most influential stars and even named names.
"Here in the NFL, the greatest players aren't in the forefront of the movement. Whether it's the CBA, whether it's things going on with trying to change the way -- concussions. The greatest players aren't involved like LeBron James, Chris Paul and all these guys [in the NBA]. Our great players are sitting back just taking the dollars, whether it's Cam Newton, all these guys. They're not really on the forefront of trying to change what's going on."
(Photo Credit: nfl.com)
Bennett later reached out to Newton to apologize for bringing his name up in the conversation. However, if Bennett didn't bring it up then someone else would have. This was just days after outspoken Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman was featured in a Q&A article for ESPN written by Domonique Foxworth in which he espouses his views on the movement. It was titled, predictably enough, "As Human Beings, All Lives Matter".
I could write volumes about everything wrong with what Sherman said, but I will not. It's too easy to point to markers, both historic and contemporary, to show that All Lives do not and have never mattered.
Originally coined by individuals looking to steal the thunder of righteousness from BLM, "All Lives Matter" is now used as a rallying cry for individuals who believe they're taking a humanist approach to the issue.
(Photo Credit: galleryhip.com)
However, if humanism were the pervasive philosophy of the day people would never have to state our equality by saying "Black Lives Matter" in the first place. It's not a movement of power but rather an affirmation of humanity. Predictably, members of mainstream media flocked to Seahawks' QB Russell Wilson, man of mixed race, perhaps in search of a dissenting opinion.
His response was painfully middle of the road and lukewarm on the issues of police brutality and retaliation against law enforcement as well.
"Well I think we all have a responsibility,” Wilson said. “It’s not just on athletes, it’s not just on coaches, it’s not just on anybody in particular. It’s on all of us. I think ultimately it comes down to love and appreciating one another and respect for one another. Black lives obviously matter, of course they do and we have to treat it that way. Also, police lives matter, too, and everybody’s lives matter. I think about it like I don’t want it to be my kids one day, that’s really where you kind of feel it and that’s the way you have to think about it for all of us. It’s an appreciation for society, an appreciation for the country we live in, an appreciation for the towns and cities that we live in. Ultimately, it comes down to all of us to make sure we appreciate one another.”
It would be nice if we all just appreciated and respected one another. However, for far too many people, respect and law enforcement are words that are mixing about as well as oil and vinegar these days. Recently, actor Will Smith told a reporter that racism "wasn't getting worse, it's just being recorded."
We can sit here and argue the pros and cons of his words until kingdom come. Is racism getting worse? It's difficult to quantify that statement with any certainty.
But what the callous and very discriminatory practices of some in positions of authority used against people of color, and the fire with which said practices are defended by other black folks, hints at is the fight for racial equality had become static and inert in many degrees. This has changed considerably since the death of Trayvon Martin.
When we see civil rights icons of the 60s praise organizations that sanction and protect murderous police officers yet criticize and minimize young people following the example of activism they set, it is indicative of a Catch-22; organize, fight the system, get laws passed, win elections, become a part of the system, protect the system, and ultimately become defacto gatekeepers against those who would continue the fight you arguably have abandoned.
Increasingly, this seems true of athletes and celebrities as well. Who wins with a flurry of misinformation spewing from the mouth of the uninformed, the ill-informed and misinformed?
Certainly not Black folks.