Martin Luther King, Jr said he who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
Hearkening back to the legacies of Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and the late Muhammad Ali, NBA superstars LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade used their platform at the ESPY Awards last night to call for an end to police brutality, violent retaliation, and gun violence within the community as well.
“Good evening. Tonight is a celebration of sports, celebrating our accomplishments and our victories. But, in this moment of celebration, we asked to start the show tonight this way, the four of us talking to our fellow athletes, with the country watching. Because we cannot ignore the reality of the current state of America. The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, distrust and anger that plague so many of us.
The system is broken. The problems are not new. The violence is not new. And the racial divide definitely is not new. But the urgency to create change is at an all-time high,” said Carmelo in opening the show.
“The racial profiling has to stop. The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop. Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop. But also, the retaliation has to stop.The endless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando, it has to stop. Enough. Enough is enough.
Now, as athletes, its on us to challenge each other to do even more than we already do in our own communities. And the conversation, it cannot stop as our schedules get busy again. It wont always be convenient. It wont. It wont always be comfortable, but it is necessary,” Wade added.
Last week, Carmelo Anthony took to Twitter in an impassioned plea to inspire more athletes into taking a stance on racism, police brutality and inner city gun violence that largely affects African American and Latino youth across the country. LeBron James, who has been at the forefront of athletes who participate in social activism since before the death of Trayvon Martin, has been taken to task by many who feel that he has to do more.
This was a definitely a step in the right direction, though criticism from both the left and right continue to pile up on King James’ doorstep. Earlier this week, players from the the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, led by Maya Moore, made pre-game statements and donned t-shirts to bring light to the ongoing battle to push police brutality to the forefront of the national debate.
Four police officers who were scheduled to work the WNBA game walked off in protest, despite the exhaustive explanations from many pundits illustrating how Black Lives Matter is neither anti-police or anti-white, that many still feel great umbrage at the mere mention of the slogan Black Lives Matter, the activism group of the same name, or any group that espouses the same views as the aforementioned.
The bold and timely move couldn’t have come at a better time, when a week of turmoil and despair gripped a greater portion of the American consciousness after the police involved shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, followed by the shooting deaths of five police officers in Dallas, Texas following a BLM-led protest march.
Steph Curry, who received the ESPY for Record Breaking Performance for making 402 three-pointers last season, spoke up against gun violence in accepting the Arthur Ash Courage Award on behalf of Zaevion Dobson, a 15-year-old high school football player from Knoxville, Tennessee who was killed shielding classmates from a drive-by shooting.
Additionally, there is some speculation that Carmelo Anthony may use the Rio Summer Olympics to make a political statement as well while former NBA player and TNT analyst Kenny “The Jet” Smith recently challenged athletes to dedicate 10 percent of their salary to help combat police brutality.
Meanwhile, a contingent of retired athletes continue to bang the same tired, old antebellum drum about black people needing to get their stuff together while admonishing BLM, much to the delight of individuals looking to minimize the physical and psychological repercussions that such trauma has extracted.
LeBron, D Wade, Chris Paul and Melo appear to be moving on without them.