By J. K. Schmid, AFRO Baltimore Staff
“When the police stop you, there are different rules that you have,” Etan Thomas told the AFRO. “That’s just the way that it is.”
Thomas, a retired 9-year Washington Wizard turned author and activist, visited Frederick Douglass High School during a Fatherhood Summit. Part of the visit was the promotion and handout of copies of Thomas’s 2018 book “We Matter: Athletes and Activism.”
A collection of interviews with athletes such as Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade and journalists including Soledad O’Brien, Chris Hayes and Jemele Hill, “We Matter” discusses the intersection of sports and politics and the continuing dynamic between athletes and activists.
“One of things that resonated the most in mainstream America-White America, was that hearing people like Dwayne Wade talk about how he thought about his sons after Trayvon Martin was killed,” Thomas said of his book.
“I remember seeing you talk about your sons and how much they loved hoodies, because at the same time I was talking about my son Malcolm about how much he loved hoodies,” Thomas wrote.
“… I remember having the conversation with my boys, and they didn’t really understand everything exactly, but it was important to let them know and answer all of their questions and talk with them about everything that was going on,” Wade said in the “We Matter” interview.
Central to the contemporary conversation is the increasing prominence of police brutality against Black people and the urgency of just as prominent media figures in sports and journalism voicing their and the Black community’s demand for justice.
With that, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement comes an increasingly sophisticated “Talk” about how to resist police violence en masses, but still get home safely.
“The battle, when you’re in confrontation with the policeman right there, it’s winning this battle,” Thomas said. “You have to know about how to conspicuously use your cell phone. The main point is to get home safely, then you can fight to win the bigger war, later. But the main thing right there is to get home safely and those are the kind of discussions that we’ve having as we’ve been doing workshops with young Black men across the country.”
Thomas cited Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp as another part of the new dynamic of knowing and asserting rights while still getting home safely.
“A lot of the reaction from Black America is that they are thankful that people are standing up for our children, but they have to navigate through this,” Thomas said. “Because you can’t dictate somebody’s heart, you still have to navigate through it.”