In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, we’ve witnessed iconic images of the United States that will define this time in history.
We’ve seen everything from the ugliness of police brutality, to images of citizens uniting across the country, expressing their first amendment rights.
In a changing world, and amidst a potential return to play, the NBA is finding itself at the center of the social issues currently captivating the Nation’s attention.
The political mobilization of Black athletes in the U.S impacts the young generation of African-Americans. An impact I’ve witnessed firsthand through experiences with my father.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists on the world’s stage at the Olympics in 1968, along with Muhammad Ali making his stance against the Vietnam war were both images of Black pride that occurred during my father’s youth.
I could always tell these moments carried weight for him, and I firmly believe the images of athlete activism that we see today will hold the same weight for the youth going forward.
The importance of seeing the most visible athletes take stands for what they believe in will forever lie in the beauty of children seeing their superheroes fight for them.
Some recent examples of this include a moment in 2012, a brief moment when the Miami Heat posed with their hoodies up to show solidarity after the killing of Trayvon Martin.
In the time following their message, we’ve seen NBA players wear “I can’t breathe” warm-up shirts and slowly increase the use of their platform to speak about the need for social change.
We should not always look to athletes when we have societal issues, but due to the clout they hold in our society, their voices and actions matter, and can amplify the words echoing in the streets.
Black athlete demonstration is also important because it combats the destructive idea of Black Exceptionalism, or in layman’s terms, the idea that being seen as exceptional is enough to omit an individual from many issues plaguing the community at large.
Unifying with the people shows that it is impossible for us to “Talented Tenth” our way to progress, it’s going to take as many bodies as we can get to push for change.
NBA Champion Stephen Jackson is the man in the middle of it all.
He’s the closest big name in sports connected to George Floyd, and as a result, he has decided to use his platform to pressure the nation to improve.
Jackson has marched in the streets, taken interviews across the country, and mobilized NBA players to fight alongside him.
Recently, Jackson expressed his opinion on the NBA returning. He mentioned a return to play could steal focus from what is going on in the streets.
Jackson was the type of player who brought an edge to every team he played for.
Every game, his opponents would feel his presence, and he brings the same energy to the sports media world on his show “All The Smoke” and to his role in the fight for social justice in the United States.
In honoring his friend George Floyd, Jackson is doing whatever he can to make the world a better place.
I’m with him, I hope you are too.