In the aftermath of the disturbing and inexcusable killing of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin and other members of the Minneapolis Police Department, only three words can describe the feeling across the planet: Black Lives Matter.
Many of the major cities throughout the United States continue to host protests, where many have publicly voiced their opinion, and are unified with one another in creating change for the better. Among those involved in these marches for justice are professional athletes across different sports.
One story that truly stood out to me was that of Boston Celtics’ G Jaylen Brown. Brown being from the Atlanta area, drove 15 hours from Boston to lead a peaceful protest throughout the city.
In reflecting on his involvement in these protests, Brown said, “Being a celebrity, being an NBA player, don’t exclude me from no conversations at all. First and foremost, I’m a black man and I’m a member of the community…We’re raising awareness for some of the injustices that we’ve been seeing. It’s not ok.”
Another instance of an athlete being directly involved in embracing this change was that of UFC star Jon Jones. His approach was different from the rest, as it has yet to be publicized if he was a part of a protest, but he has openly promoted discourse on his social media outlets.
The story that strikes me with him, was a video he posted on his Instagram page, where he is seen stripping two violators of their spray cans. Despite the heavily explicit caption that follows the video, I believe Jones’ message is the right one.
He essentially says that while protesting and expressing the demand for immediate change is an important one, senseless violence or acts of violation against one’s city or properties derives attention from the matter at hand. Coming from an athlete who’s sport is all about inflicting violence on one another, this was an incredibly powerful message.
The last and most powerful example, for me, of an athlete being at the forefront of change comes from former NBA player Stephen Jackson, who was a longtime friend of George Floyd. They were so close in fact that Jackson would call Floyd his “twin,” and that’s what they referred to each other as.
Once tragedy struck, Jackson took it upon himself to demand change and justice in the death of his long-time friend. He joined Floyd’s family in Minnesota and has spoken publicly in various occasion demanding attention on the matter from the world. Jackson has led multiple peaceful protests, in which he has discouraged senseless acts of violence by rioters and encouraging everyone to vote as one of the most impactful ways of forcing a new tomorrow.
He has been quoted saying, “We got to vote.” “I’m not just talking about the president. I’m talking about the local city council. I’m talking about your police chief, your fire chief. We need to vote for all that type of stuff because all that stuff’s going to matter at the end. And what we’re doing now as far as protesting everywhere around the world, we got to use that same energy when it’s time to vote.”
Many other athletes and celebrities have spoken directly to Jackson over the change he is striving to make and have shown their support over all types of social media platforms.
The most notable instance came through LeBron James, who reached out directly to Stephen Jackson and here is what he told him:
So, what can WE do?
As sports fans of all different backgrounds and skin color, it is important for us to support the cause being promoted from the athletes we admire and look up to. Some of us may not truly understand what is means to undergo the hardship that African-Americans endure on the daily, especially from that of law enforcement, but to rally behind the cause.
Like I mentioned earlier, I believe there is no room for senseless violence and rioting, as that both harms people that do not deserve it and derives attention from the matter at hand. Let’s not give the people on the opposition any excuses to ignore this movement, let’s rally behind this cause the right way so they can’t silence us!
Black Lives Matter