The 21st century Negro athlete has been all but censored when it comes to social political issues within the African American community. It is looked as the big “no-no” in the eyes of advertisers, endorsements, public relations and the NBA/NFL itself. Gone are the days of Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the boisterous Muhammed Ali. These were men of principle, character, and weren’t afraid to embrace who they were and where they came from. They understood being socially aware could cost them everything they worked for, but they knew black brotherhood was not only an iconic symbol to engraved in the minds of black America, but a warning to white America that we as a people shall not be moved. Insert the modern day athlete: when unless it’s the current social movements of the day (aka everything non-black), the athlete is obligated to appear in commercials and functions for foolish and insulting causes like Sheryl Sandberg’s gynocentric inspired, Lean In. I don’t even need to mention how the LGBT agenda continues to have a burgeoning presence in the league with every team being garnered pride shirts; hosting LGBT game nights; and WNBA player’s broaching the question for pay inequality compared to the NBA professionals. You have breast cancer awareness month which seems abundant and repetitive throughout the year having the players wear pink on it on multiple occasions. Yet, when it comes to men’s health, they have an utter blatant disregard like heart disease and prostate cancer doesn’t affect us? Give me a break!
This leads me to the New York Knick’s star forward Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is recognized league wide as a top ten performer when healthy, and become the face of one of the NBA’s most historic and influential franchises. Anthony sharing the memorable photo of black brotherhood on his Twitter and Instagram a few days ago, may have just entered enemy territory playing for the NBA’s largest market. Melo is calling for his professional contemporaries to challenge their local and state governments and address real social political issues. Showing up with an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt and wearing your jerseys inside out during a playoff game, will no longer cut it. As you can remember, the former Clippers owner Donald Sterling was recorded making incendiary remarks about African Americans which led him to sell the team to Microsoft guru Steve Ballmer in 2014. The reason why I bring this up because is both teams who were scheduled to play that day (Clippers vs. Warriors) could have exude their power as players by putting an fiscal stranglehold on the NBA and its advertisers by simply refusing to play. There lies the problem. Melo is not only dealing with the threat of losing endorsements for standing for black people and causes, he will have to deal with the emasculated, coddled, and socially docile black male athlete. Hopefully, with the recent killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by what some would identify as “race soldiers,” maybe some these athletes will grow a pair after all.
A perfect example of how much power black athletes have in their sports programs is the incident which took place at the University of Missouri late last year. Lead by allegations from micro-aggressive students of racial discrimination, 32 black football players refused to participate in all football related activities until the universities’ President, Tim Wolfe, had resigned. Maybe this could be the example Anthony and others who respond to his clarion call can galvanize; in extreme circumstances of course. In a post which appears on his Instagram and website ThisIsMelo.com, the Knick’s forward passionately expressed the need for change and how even he—by any means–would lead the charge:
“Look I’ll even lead the charge, By Any Means Necessary. We have to be smart about what we are doing though. We need to steer our anger in the right direction. The system is Broken. Point blank period. It has been this way forever. Martin Luther King marched. Malcolm X rebelled. Muhammad Ali literally fought for US. Our anger should be towards the system. If the system doesn’t change we will continue to turn on the TVs and see the same thing. We have to put the pressure on the people in charge in order to get this thing we call JUSTICE right…”
Depending how far Melo is willing to stick his neck out there for social change only time will tell. But I personally salute Mr. Anthony for being brave enough for even challenging his contemporaries in a time where racial tension continues to swell nationally. It’s time out for soft shoe protests which judging by what’s going on in Baton Rouge has become a late season version of Marde Gras. See what the corporations are afraid of and absolutely distain is black athletes involving themselves in black political causes. Not to mention if THEY were to gentrify our inner cities (instead of greedy corporations) plus create neighborhood businesses that will establish an economic base. Because while I understand going to our local politicians and assembly men demanding change; however, we all know that this change we long for will only remain daydream without having monetary clout. I’m sure Carmelo is aware of this as he looks to amend a system that even he admits has been perpetually “broken”. Peace and love y’all.
To see the rest of Carmelo’s post on “It’s Time to Step up and Take Charge”, click here