Should professional athletes make public statements about politics or should they just focus on the game?
By: Samantha White
Amid experiencing 500 years of oppression, fighting for social justice in the United States is nothing new to the Black community; however, as time proceeds, the forms of activism continue to evolve to align with modern-day values. Throughout history, we have seen members of the Black community fight for social justice in the form of sit-ins, protests, petitions, and more, but the form of activism that has continuously proven to be the most effective is boycotting. In a country that often values money over human life and is willing to focus on the economy more than civil rights, it is no wonder why boycotting- especially large corporations- has been the most effective in accomplishing change. Professional athletes have now rightfully taken advantage of this form of activism and should continue to do so until a positive change is implemented with our law enforcement.
Historically speaking, we’ve mainly seen athletes participate in social justice initiatives using performative activism which is great at facilitating discussions and bringing much-needed awareness but does not guarantee change. The Black Lives Matter movement has quickly become a global phenomenon which is an indication that if people around the world are aware of the social injustices going on in America, Americans are too. Awareness is no longer the issue and professional athletes need to move from performative activism to demanding justice. The NBA is a multimillion-dollar industry and when players unit in refusal to play, money is lost. This adds pressure to pass legislation or change law enforcement practices in order to raise revenue.
By refusing to be exploited for their talents only to be disrespected because of the color of their skin, Black professional athletes are spearheading the Black Lives Matter movement and should continue to do so through their strikes. Although facing vast criticism, Black professionals athletes can no longer afford to remain silent on such issues. After all, when the day is over and these athletes take off their jerseys, they are no longer valued Black professional athletes but instead become Black men whose life is seen as disposable in the eyes of society. Making statements about social unrest is simply not enough anymore, and when a debate has ensued about the value of Black life all measures should be taken to finally obtain justice and equity