By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
This past week was yet another reminder of how our country fails to live up to being the United States of America. Just in this short year alone, there have been countless incidents that have proven there is a different way in which black people have been treated this country. As this country is trying to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic, the shock, the hurt, and sadness of another senseless murder of a black person, at the hands of the police has bubbled over once again.
We can refer back to the sixties when police dogs were unleashed upon helpless black men and women. Or the early eighties when New York police officers strangled Graffiti Artist Michael Stewart to death just as they did Eric Garner a few short years ago, which neither have yet to serve any jail time. There has also been the absurd shooting of Breonna Taylor, an EMT in Louisville, KY, after barging into her home around 1 am, and then shooting her 8 times.
The boiling point came last week, after all of America was shown the viral video of the Minnesota officer resting his knee on the neck of George Floyd for nearly 9 minutes until he became unresponsive. He was pronounced dead by the time the ambulance arrived on the scene. After there was no arrest of either of the 4 officers on the scene, Minneapolis began to protest and the protests were followed by riots. By Saturday residents of Washington DC, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Seattle, and several other cities engaged in protests of their own against the current inequality to justice in this country.
It’s hard to find any silver lining in the looting and burning of buildings which has caused the POTUS to invoke an executive decision to send in the “national guard” and “heavily armed military personnel” into our Nation’s capital to push around peaceful protesters behind the cloak of halting the rioting and looting. However, the best thing to come of this past weekend for America is the understanding that white America has gained from these horrific incidents. From sea to shining sea we have seen and will highlight, how Sheriffs have shown leadership amidst chaos along with various leaders within the world of sports.
While in the middle of protesters Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo had this passionate message for America, “… so if you have hate in your heart, for people of color get over it!” He wasn’t the only leader of officers to engage with protesters. Flint Michigan Sheriff Chris Swanson emphatically told a bunch of protesters in his town, “I took my helmet off and laid the batons down… I want to make this a parade rather than a protest!” He then encouraged the crowd by saying, “you tell us what you need” and as the crowds chanted walk with us, Swanson began to march with the crowd in a show of solidarity.
Several sports figureheads, both black and white, shared their thoughts and opinions from the murder of George Lloyd by the knee of Minnesota police officer last week. Nick Wright, host of FS1’s First Things First passionately spoke directly to the white people in this country in his speech. He opened up by saying, “To my fellow white people,” he then continued to befittingly point out the restraint law enforcers use with white crowds vs black crowds.
NBA Analyst and former member of Michigan’s Fab 5, Jalen Rose had some strong words for those willing to listen, when he said, “I wish America loved black people as much as they loved the black culture.” Which makes a lot of sense considering how the “black culture” has been revered around the world in recent years. Though he was not the most recognizable name from the NBA to speak out on this subject. In an article recently posted by The Nation, NBA Champion and Head Coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Greg Popovich told Dave Zirin what was on his mind in regards to how our country’s leader is handling this current situation. “The thing that strikes me is that we all see this police violence and racism, and we’ve seen it all before, but nothing changes. That’s why these protests have been so explosive,” he said. “But without leadership and an understanding of what the problem is, there will never be change. And white Americans have avoided reckoning with this problem forever because it’s been our privilege to be able to avoid it. That also has to change.”
Popovich went on to say, “It’s unbelievable. If Trump had a brain, even if it was 99 percent cynical, he would come out and say something to unify people. But he doesn’t care about bringing people together. Even now. That’s how deranged he is. It’s all about him. It’s all about what benefits him personally. It’s never about the greater good. And that’s all he’s ever been.”
Even more impressively, Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Frank Reich share this with us during his zoom call on Monday morning with Adam Shefter, “It’s easy to be silent and do nothing when it doesn’t impact you… our black community has bore the brunt of this for far too long! I believe that I, we, all have a personal responsibility to speak up and to act in a way that builds each other up, not tear each other down.” No wonder this guy has been a favorite teammate to many NFL players, these are the words of a passionate player, coach, and teammate.
Each of these examples underscores what togetherness, teamwork, and leadership should look like in this country, kindly share your thoughts on who’s words touched you most by reaching out to me on Twitter @whatsgoodnsport or forward your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, be sure to subscribe to our weekly “Voice of the Fans Podcast” which is available for you on most podcasting platforms, Apple and Google Podcasts including Spotify, TuneIn, and iHeart Radio. As always, Thank You for making our voice, your choice!