My plan was to write about the NBA finals. To preview the 3rd installment of the Cavs and Warriors. To break down LeBron surpassing MJ or KD getting his first ring. That was my plan. I had it all figured out, I was going to give you all of the reasons why I thought LeBron James and the Cavs were going to upset the Warriors and repeat as NBA champs. And then this came across my timeline:
Suddenly whoever puts a ball through a hoop more times than the other matters a whole lot less. Now I’m sure some people read the exact same headline and brushed it off as hyperbole or insignificant because “He’s rich and famous, he should be used to haters” or “It was probably just some random idiot”. I’m sure it might have been easy for some of you to scroll right on by…and I’m sorry to be this blunt, but…
YOU’RE FUCKING MISSING THE POINT.
If someone who is at the top of his game, at the highest level of success in not only his field, but in life in general…If someone like LeBron James at the end of the day is still looked at by some as simply a “Nigger”. Then what chance do the rest of us have. Seriously stop and think about that message for a second.
“Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coupe” – Kanye West (All Falls Down)
Those words from Mr. West have always stuck with me as a reminder that no matter what I do or what I accomplish, to some at the end of the day I will always just be different. But not just different, different with a negative connotation. We both can wear jeans and t-shirts, but my jeans and t-shirts will always be different. The worst part about this is, we’ve been told all of our lives “that’s just the way it is. There will always be racist people in the world” And I’m always forced to fire back with, WHY? Why are we just supposed to accept that some people are just blatantly ignorant and that others are just as ignorant…but only behind closed doors? Why is that something that we should still be “accepting” in 2017? Some may not understand this, but again what chance do the rest of us honestly have if that’s how LeBron James is perceived? Think about it, we talk more about his hairline than we do about the $41 Million that he spent to send over a 1000 kids to college.
Just a few months ago, LeBron starred in a Nike campaign that centered on the concept of “Equality”
It was a powerful ad to some and to others just another attempt to sell shoes. Regardless of which side of that you fall on, the irony of watching that same man sit in front of a group of media and recite the story of Emmett Till’s open casket was heart wrenching to say the least.
Of course he’s an athlete in the spotlight, but he’s also a human being who no doubt has to be worried about the safety of his family. On the flip side, he’s also a man that wants to be known for more than what he does on a basketball court. He’s aware of the platform the sport brings and lately hasn’t been shy about using it to deliver a message.
Basketball and sports in general, are supposed to be an escape from the negativity that plagues us in the real world. But over the past few years, it’s also been an important reminder of the stage it can bring when explaining social issues. As much as we debate the role race plays in “Why PK Subban doesn’t fit into hockey culture”….we all know deep down that language is coded at best. Same thing for LeBron and his “posse” or Colin Kaepernick “disrespecting” the anthem and obviously for Boston fans and their relationship with Adam Jones. Many people confuse these things with having to be “uber-politically correct” in 2017. But in reality it’s much more about being honest with ourselves about what’s really going on. Words have meaning. Maybe some of us have forgotten that elementary school lesson, but that’s why LeBron James’ words today were so important.
He’s arguably the greatest athlete of his generation and on the eve of one of the biggest games of his life, he’s forced to answer questions about some jack ass spray painting “Nigger” on his front gate. Again, stop and think about the ridiculous nature of that sentence. You can hear the pain in his voice and I honestly don’t know how he was able to keep it together, much less articulate so eloquently the importance of the role he now understands he plays, in terms of keeping this discussion in the main stream. It would be so easy to give a “no comment” or to say something as generic as “the police are handling it”. But that’s not LeBron James. At least it’s not person we’ve watched mature into the man who stood on stage with his brothers at an award show last year, to deliver an extremely important message at a very delicate time in our history.
Some will always ask, what is he REALLY DOING? Or question whether he could be doing more. But how about we stop and appreciate what is actually being done. You see, the simple act of acknowledging this pathetic act, forces the media worldwide to discuss the topic of racism, while they promote the biggest basketball games of year. And that’s the part people often miss. While racism continues to be a huge problem, the even bigger issue is the reluctance by many to acknowledge the fact of it being a problem in the first place. Racism can’t go away until we all admit that it still exists. That’s when we can all demand that it stops. I know this all seems like a crazy concept, especially when you consider the campaign ran by the current leader of the free world. But again, until we all understand that it’s a very real problem…nothing will ever change.
So as I said, I was going to write about who was going to win the NBA Finals and then racism reared its ugly head yet again. Some of you might be thinking “why does race always have to be a thing, let’s just enjoy basketball” and others might be smart enough to realize that some don’t get the chance to have it “not be a thing”. Of course I could have went ahead and written about the finals and focused on the positives of having basketball as an escape, but to be honest…I’m so tired of being told to “accept it” and that’s what we all do to a certain extent the longer we allow racism to exist in our society. I don’t have much of a platform, but I’m going to use the little one that I do have to say that I’m fed up and sick and tired of having to explain racism. But it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop, despite always being worried about how I will be received. Imagine how fucked up our society is when a segment of the population is made to feel bad about discussing their insecurities. Insecurities due to things far beyond their own control. Yes people should be upset about the act of racial slurs being plastered on a black family’s front gate. But shouldn’t the other people that live around the James’ LA home be even angrier that something of that nature took place in their neighborhood? Shouldn’t Boston fans be more upset that someone felt they were in a safe enough space that they could yell “Nigger” at Adam Jones? Do you see where I’m going here? This isn’t just an issue about how black people deal with racism, it’s about how we as a society will eventually demand that it stops. You see equality is an interesting concept that many don’t really understand. It’s not about just having a “token black guy” in your office. True equality would be getting to the point where someone is a “shitty worker” who just happens to be black….just as I’m sure there are shitty workers in your office who just happen to be white. Maybe as you look up from your computer screen you’ll get a better understanding of what I’m trying to say…or maybe not.
Maybe a better example of inequality is like that Chris Rock bit where he talks about the rich neighbourhood he lives in….well I’ll let Mr. Rock tell the joke.
They say there’s some truth in every joke and maybe by now I hope I’m starting to make a little more sense to you in terms of opening up the dialogue. Or again…maybe not. Maybe I’m rambling, because I’m frustrated. Maybe you’ll just continue to complain about how long it’s taking for the NBA finals to start, so that we can all go back to talking about the games. But maybe, just maybe… it’s time we all realize the need to start complaining about racism and how that’s the game that really needs to come to an end. Cause if that’s how “they” feel about LeBron….then what do “they” think of me.
“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough” – LeBron James
As always, just my thoughts. Right or wrong. Just how I’m feeling at the time.
And oh yeah…Cavs in 6.