A few days ago, NBA legend Michael Jordan opened up about the recent acts of violence against African Americans that have gripped the nation. Jordan’s words were echoed by other popular Black athletes including Carmelo Anthony, Cam Newton, LeBron James and Chris Paul.
Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan watches an NBA basketball game between the Bobcats and the Chicago Bulls in Charlotte, N.C., April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)
Jordan’s letter, released to The Undefeated early last week, chronicled topics ranging from his $1 million grant to help build trust between police and communities and a plea for peace. Jordan’s letter was well-received after a curiously odd bout of extended silence over the years following his retirement. While Jordan’s words were much needed in the Black community, it’s going to take more than his voice for athletes to force their imprint on society.
In this July 13, 2016, file photo, NBA basketball players Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, from left, speak on stage at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles. The four gave an anti-violence speech and expressed their support of the values behind the Black Lives Matter movement.(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
Support for Black Lives Matter has had enormous backing from Black athletes, obviously, but the support is going to have to be extended from other races if an impact is expected. Sure, guys like Jordan and James speaking out on the issue will resonate, but if change is really going to happen, then major White athletes must be more involved. It’s a different take on things when guys like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning are speaking out on Black Lives Matter topics, alongside members from the actual community it affects.
The sports community has taken a larger role in openly discussing the senseless murders that have been plaguing the country recently and several Black athletes have made a point to attract any and all attention to the issue. Shirts, social media and speeches have been dedicated to the topic, but things don’t appear to be changing.
We expect Serena Williams and LeBron to actively speak on policemen casually killing innocent Black citizens, and we know how much it affects them and their children because they’re members of that group. But what we don’t know is how it affects a Brady or a Manning or even a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. What about the opinions of other minorities, as voiced by Manny Machado or Carlos Corrrea for example. Race and sports have always shared a unique bond that can sometimes make color irrelevant. America doesn’t go crazy for Tom Brady because he’s a White signal caller. We respect him more for his game rather than his complexion.
The current climate in America couldn’t be more volatile. Media stars and athletes are making a last-second effort to try to lend a voice to help aid what’s ailing the country right now. And while the help is always welcomed from the people you expect it to come from, sometimes it’s the place where you least expected it to come from that makes it mean a whole lot more.