NBA Protests: Press Conferences, Protests and Donations still fall on deaf ears and hateful hearts

As mad as I want to be that I won’t get to see the finale of the postseason right now, I can’t be nor would it be fair if I was.

The sports fan in me is aching because I love playoff basketball. The human side of me feels bad for these athletes.

Here are people who put their money where their mouths are to try and uplift underprivileged and underfunded communities to break the cycle of systematic brokeness and systemic racism driven by centuries of bad policy. Yet, here they are still feeling like they are unheard despite the platform they have to stand on.

For athletes (specifically black athletes), this is such a rock and hard place moment. Even when you bring up the good they do, there is the idiot who says “YeAh, BuT He HaS MiLLioNS” as if it makes the charitable cause worthless. I along with many other middle class Americans can probably afford to donate to causes every year, but I don’t and neither do most of the people screaming that shit.

I am not saying to every middle class American to spend their money on charity. I am not saying you are a bad person because you don’t do it. I am saying don’t come in shitting on those that do because they simply have more than you or I will likely ever make in your lifetime.

These athletes, many of who come from bad situations, are fighting against those bad situations. They are fighting against the under funded educational infrastructure and the many aspect of disenfranchisement that has lasted generations. This entire perception that we are all on the same level playing field is complete bullshit. Our society is trying to erase 400 years of hatred toward the black community and anyone who isn’t white for that matter.

It was only 155 years ago that slaves were freed. It was within the last 100 years that Black were granted the inalienable right to vote. That being said, we are still funneling through the avenues of voter suppression.

You don’t find it ironic that Black people make up north of 1/5 of the poverty line and Native Americans make up nearly 1/4 of poverty in the US. One group was enslaved for centuries and the other was slaughtered for the land. Of course, people my age did not have a hand in those things so it is wrong to blame us. If you choose to ignore those things as if they didn’t affect the outcome of society today, then bless your heart.

Other factors that lead to higher chances of poverty are of course employment status, single parent households and other factors. Unfortunately, black communities are disproportionately affected by these things for a number of reasons including incarceration. Desperation leads to bad habits, which is another rabbit hole for another day.

But to pretend people who grow up in poor areas can wave a magic wand and the generations of poverty go away is ignorant. Why aren’t you or I higher than middle class status then? Why aren’t you gainfully employed despite Covid? There are things beyond our control, much like bad policies like redlining under the blanket of white flight took that control from black folks.

Cue to person who screams, “BuT wHaT aBoUt AsIaN AmErIcAnS?” who make up the same poverty as Whites (10%). You mean the people who didn’t heavily migrate here until 1870 and then a second wave in 1965? Yeah, those people. They weren’t here since the beginning being driven out or enslaved and then having to fight for rights as a minority. They came after that needle started heavily moving.

That being said, there is still work to do. Now, we see police taking due process into their own hands and black athletes are sick of it. I have the luxury of not having a conversation with my kids about how to act with police. Some of my friends don’t have that same luxury. That is infuriating. Here are a couple of things to note…

  • 99% of police don’t face criminal charges, even less get convicted
  • 17% of total killings being unarmed people
    *Note – just because someone is armed doesn’t automatically mean justified*
  • From 2013-2019, 1,609 Black People Killed By Police. 33% (1/3) unarmed, compared to 15% whites killed unarmed
  • Since 2013, Black People make up 28% of killings, despite being 12% of the population
  • Blacks are three times more likely to be killed by police
  • 1.3 more times unlikely to be killed if unarmed

That is not to say police in general are bad. They are not. They are paid to uphold the law justly. They are not hold to the same standard as let’s say our military, but are designed to protect all people domestically.

Black athletes and athletes in general now are sick of seeing these things happen. They are acting accordingly. Now of course because I am talking about the NBA, I bring up the Montrezl Harrell situation. What he said was wrong obviously. I think using color to degrade anyone is inherently wrong, but Kenny Smith said it best. He basically said there is no power calling someone white boy because it wasn’t white people who were/are negatively affected by racism. In the meantime, Harrell apologized to Luka Doncic and it was squashed.

It is false equivalency to compared white boy to black boy. I am happy to see the NBA players taking a major stand here in the fight for fundamental change.

To quote Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, “if you stand for nothing, what’ll you fall for?”

The Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their game 5 matchup with the Orlando Magic and decided not to play to further push the narrative that Black Lives Matter. Now, the league has followed the lead postponing everything. I promise you will hear people call them crybabies and that they should do their jobs and they took their ball and went home.

So many people are still missing the main points on the movement as a whole.

I posted recently about Herschel Walker’s comments regarding Black Lives Matter because of one of the statements he made during the Republican National Convention. It echoed a sentiment often made by President Donald Trump, talking heads on the right and a large section of the base.

“I care about all of those things, and so does Donald Trump. He shows how much he cares about social justice and the Black community through his actions. And his actions speak louder than any stickers or slogans on a jersey.”

It feeds into a narrative imposed by many that quite frankly doesn’t exist. That narrative echoes a sentiment that athletes just talk and don’t actually act. That is laughable at best. I am sure there are athletes who exploit charitable measures for personal gain. It would be silly to paint with the broad brush that it doesn’t happen. There was big probe into high profile athlete charities in 2012-13. But as a whole, athletes donate hundreds of hours and millions of dollars. Unfortunately, I cannot find any raw data on the average spending or total spending on charity across the sports leagues. That being said, here are some charitable contributions in the last few years…

  • LeBron James
    started I Promise
    Dropped $41 million in 2015 alone for the LeBron James Family Foundation
  • Colin Kaepernick
    $1.1 million since 2016
    100k to covid relief
  • JJ Watt
    Raised $37 Million for Harvey victims
    Funeral expenses for Santa Fe shooting victims
    $1 million pledge shortly after Kaep to underprivileged areas
  • Larry Fitzgerald
    First down fund helps youth sports for under funded areas in Minneapolis
  • Richard Sherman
    Blanket Coverage which helps students obtain school supplies and clothing
  • Mo’ne Davis
    Because I am a girl project helps young girls escape poverty
  • Serena Williams
    Williams Foundation helps with scholarships among other things
  • Chris Long
    Donated an entire years salary for education in his hometown
  • Thabo Sefolosha
    After being wrongfully arrested and winning a $4 million settlement, donated most to support Gideon’s Promise
  • Kevin Durant
    $10 million donation to Prince George County Public Schools to start a college track program which includes tutoring, tuition, test prep and financial aid

When I posted this, I had someone tell me I was nitpicking, which isn’t necessarily wrong because the speech was about Trump’s character.

My main point is Walker could’ve done that without the not so subtle shot at the NBA for the t-shirts and jerseys. As I said, it’s also an echo of a much larger base that the president himself has adhered to on more than one occasion. So while it may be nitpicking, it is nitpicking something that deserves to be nitpicked. At the end of day, who cares? Because he ultimately fucking said it.

Some may say I just picked athletes that fit the narrative I was suggesting. My response is I didn’t decide to paint them with a broad brush as one size fits all like Walker’s statement did. As for the athletes, find me a list 10 deep of prominent figures not donating.

There is a very fundamental problem with the echo chamber who will do anything to tear down those protesting. NO ANSWER IS EVER RIGHT! If they hold a press conference or talk about it, it becomes shut up and dribble or you’re not paid to give your political opinion. If they kneel during the anthem, they are Un-American and they could go about it better. If they donate to charities, it becomes ignored and they can always “do more.” If they wear stickers or jerseys that display the message, “keep politics out of sports.”

The last one is always my favorite answer because people have to be dense as a doorknob if they think sports are or have been without politics. Name me any decade and I’ll give you a list of athletes who made political statements during them.

The reason no answer is ever right is because it doesn’t subscribe to a narrative that some people believe in. They just don’t want to say that and they like to move the goal posts. They want to cut down the athletes because they are the minority who essentially made it.

Try opening your mind and heart and listening instead of tearing down the next method to get their messages heard, Karen.

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