YBM Files: Black Athletes in the 60s
I am a strong believer in the term "History repeats itself" and right now the United States of America is on the brink of a social and racial conflict, something that seems to have gone on for decades. One thing about sports that I love the most is that race holds little value on a team. In the 60s though, when racial wars were at an all-time high, black athletes and entertainers stood tall for their people. They understood the platform they had, along with the power to make conservative America pay attention. Athletes like Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Jackie Robinson, Wilma Rudolph, and many more played a big part in the Civil Rights movement. In 2014, I am calling on our biggest stars, white and black, to stand up like the ones before them.
The Great Muhammad Ali made a career out of pushing racial buttons. He was the LeBron James of his era, as far as being the biggest athlete in sports, and he always stood for what he believed in. Too many athletes today are too concerned with their image and brand to take a stand like Ali did, which is understandable. No one wants their image to be tarnished or money taken out of their pockets. The difference between Ali and athletes of today is, he never designed himself nor his brand to accommodate conservative America. Ali built himself as a man of the people, which never sat well with conservative America. I'm sure if Ali played by their rules, he would have made a lot more money in his career. I don't think athletes should be as radical as Mr. Ali, even though I don't think he was radical, but they should be more willing to stand up for the people that support them.
Athletes back then were more in tune with the community, which made it easier for them to share the same struggle of the people. Even though they were big athletes that played on big stages, they still faced the inequalities that "Jimmy who hangs out at the corner store" faced. They understood the struggle and some athletes today forget they came from the same struggle. You have some athletes who do genuinely want to take a stand but they are afraid of the backlash from conservative America, so they often say nothing. Athletes in the 60s were more willing to accept the backlash, just as long as they helped their people or help shed the light on the inequalities that were taking place at that time. We need more fearless athletes.
I respect Charles Barkley's opinion and agree with him saying that burning businesses is not the right thing to do. Barkley did make some good points, but I do not agree with his stance on the situation overall. What I don't like about Barkley's comments is that he supported, what we all know, was injustice. This comes back to what I was saying about athletes trying to appeal to conservative America. They don't want to lose those sponsors, they don't want to lose those checks. Eric Garner was murdered for nothing on camera, and for Barkley to say that the police "was just a little aggressive" proves to me that we have no leaders. As a young black man, to hear an older black man with status and success claim there was no injustice in either situation, really disappoints me. Barkley is famous for his "I am not a role model" commercial, which I agree with to a certain extent, so I am not looking for him to be a leader but I would like for him to be more conscious about his people's struggle.