Will Sports Figures Help Us Break Through the Hatred?

Doc Rivers, head coach for the LA Clippers basketball team, son of a policeman…please watch this poignant video.

We are in the midst of a very ugly, unsettling time in America. The large demonstrations against injustice have somehow become delegitimized by the relatively few incidents of looting and arson. Focus groups are showing diminished support for Black Lives Matter because of the property damage. Retiring Trump aide Kelly Anne Conway minced no words: the violence, she said, will help Donald Trump’s reelection.

I am sickened that so many white people, awakened by George Floyd’s appalling death to the horrors that Black Americans are facing, could so quickly forget when another horrific episode evoked demonstrations whose largely peaceful nature is marred by acts of arson. The fact that a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, could shoot seven bullets into the back of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, while he was getting into his car–in full view of his three young children–should be viewed by everyone as the horror that it is. And we must see justice unfold promptly and transparently.

But the compounding and equally frightening fact is that police officers who knew what one of their fellow officers had done, touching off the demonstrations, then let a young white vigilante walk away after he’d shot three people with a long gun, killing two of them.

That unconscionable evidence of injustice should lead us to a major national discussion. The fact that Fox News host Tucker Carlson said the killer had to “maintain order when no one else would” does not bode well for curbing violence in our streets. We must call it what it is: an act of domestic terrorism.

I am certainly not advocating looting and arson. I wish every demonstration was peaceful. But Martin Luther King, Jr., the beacon of non-violence, called such acts “the voice of the unheard.” People who feel they have a stake in their surroundings don’t loot or set fires. Changing that dynamic after years of neglect will take time and resources. Sure, there are opportunistic looters in the mix as well, and we know that white supremacists have been responsible for some of these acts as a way to stir things up.

In the past, when armed vigilantes showed up, the police sent them home. The fact that they were welcomed in Kenosha “to protect property” shows that we as a society have our priorities badly skewed. Property should be protected by trained authorities, not by vigilantes. And never at the price of human lives.

But instead of a major national conversation, we got the Republican National Convention. Why did it feature a white St. Louis couple who had stood armed in front of their mansion as Black Lives Matter protesters walked by? These people aren’t heroes! They’re paranoid thugs, facing charges for their reckless acts. But they’re being depicted as the only way to keep your suburban family safe if you vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

If you don’t have time to watch the video above, Rivers discusses the Republicans’ emphasis during their convention:

“They’re just spewing this fear. We’re the ones getting killed, getting shot, denied living in certain communities, getting hung…All you hear about is fear. It’s amazing….Why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back. It’s so sad. We got to do better.”

The persistent emphasis on fear is a desperation tactic being used by a racist President who hopes to win over a sliver of suburban women in battleground states. Law and order indeed! The list of crimes committed by his closest advisers and the charges looming against him and his family give the lie to that claim.

I fervently hope Americans are smarter than this.

As Biden said Thursday, this is not only happening in Trump’s America; Trump is adding to the conflagration, throwing matches on the fire. I just heard someone say that Donald Trump is the cause of the violence and hopes to be its beneficiary.

Quite true. He is dividing us and trying to scare us because he has nothing to offer us after 3-1/2 years in office but 182,000+ dead in a pandemic he doesn’t know how to control and an economy that collapsed because he doesn’t understand that you can’t expect an improved economy if you deny or hide the pandemic.

He’s still trying to deny and hide by ordering fewer tests so he can claim the virus has been defeated and persuading the once-apolitical and highly respected Centers for Disease Control to assert that asymptomatic people don’t need to be tested. (The CDC eventually backtracked.) I think of Trump assuming the “Ostrich/Scientist-Imposter/Deadly” approach to curbing the pandemic. Kamala Harris was right: he froze; he failed; he’s scared.

The Athletes Offer Hope

I believe that the sports figures who boycotted their games to protest the Kenosha police shooting are in a better position than many to clarify the stakes here. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police violence, I felt he was demonstrating in the best nonviolent tradition. But he was alone, and he paid a hefty price: nearly four years later, he’s still not employed.

But the quiet dignity of all those athletes from basketball, baseball, soccer, and tennis resounded. “It was the silence that spoke loudest,” wrote Kurt Streeter in The New York Times.

“This is what the silence said: No more Jacob Blakes. No more George Floyds. No more Breonna Taylors…Natasha McKennas…Philando Castiles…Michael Browns..Tamir Rices…Eric Garners..Alton Sterlings.

“No more pain.”

Streeter wrote that “a new high bar of protest has been established.”

These athletes will ensure that the conversations about social justice will continue. (In the video. Doc Rivers so clearly states what most Black people are seeking from this country, how these continuing crimes against them make so many of them feel, and why they must continue the protests.)

Sports are unique in attracting people from disparate backgrounds, so I’m hopeful that the athletes’ plans for sustained action and discussion will channel the anger productively and move us forward toward significant societal improvements.

At the same time, athletes are seeking to make change by facilitating voting. LeBron James created an organization called More Than a Vote to overcome voter suppression. That organization is working with the LA Dodgers and Detroit Pistons to turn their stadium into a massive voting site. James is also encouraging young people to volunteer for training as poll watchers.

And, I just learned, to date at least 12 other professional sports teams (football, baseball, basketball, and hockey) will be opening their stadiums to facilitate “fast, safe, and socially distanced voting.” Expectations of the Election Super Centers Project, which is nonpartisan, are that the number will continue to rise, surpassing 25 and including university and college arenas as well.

The players’ boycotts and their emphasis on voting are two positive, nonviolent approaches to combating the dreadful deadly actions we’ve seen by too many police officers. We must confront as well the growth of overt white supremacy in our country. Regrettably, there appears to be some evidence that those two trends are linked. But that’s a story for another day.

This is a story of the growing numbers of sports figures who are turning their own pain into demonstrations of the ways our country must move if we are to get closer to the equity and racial justice that should be every Americans’ birthright.

It is now 57 years since the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. How much longer must it take for us to finally get this right?

Annie

27 thoughts on “Will Sports Figures Help Us Break Through the Hatred?

  1. The entire Left of the political spectrum not just in the US but with growing malignancy throughout the West has utterly and abjectly failed to address the deplorable rise of racism. What’s even worse is an active collusion to promote it in the name of ‘social justice’. The left has colluded in it’s prominence today. It has failed to meet Trump’s challenge of instigating unrest to bolster his own desperate incompetence with anything other than accepting and apologizing and wringing one’s hands over it with mealy mouthed excuses. The Left has helped to polarize what should be a slam-dunk election by the moderate and centrist voter to oust this narcissist despot into a highly charged and extreme partisan event guaranteed to divide the nation by awarding the scumbag the mantle of law and order.
    If Trump wins reelection in November, I will be the first person to stand up and say to every single Democrat and liberal leaning person of goodwill and intention, “I told you so” every single time anyone from the Left complains about Trump. The Left has failed – by promoting and succumbing and capitulating to the miscreants who are the social justice warriors – to address its own totalitarian fervor in the name of anti-racist social justice. It is the Left who has loaded the Trump gun, placed it to the body politic’s temple, and who continues to help tighten the grip for the trigger finger.

    Posts like this – yes, this post – that frame widespread destructive rioting, looting, burning, violence, and local political anarchy, as “relatively few incidents of looting and arson” are the means, the very lifeblood, by which Trump gains support from people who are afraid of it, who see local businesses damaged and destroyed, who see local people’s livelihoods disappear by accusation alone, who see the intolerance of any other opinion to the Marxist mantra that is Black Lives Matter, who must police their own thoughts and self-censor, who must never, ever say anything that might cause offence, to say nothing or risk an incorrect word that might trigger a snowflake, to go along to get along with those intolerant to anything but their own RightThink TruthSpeak beliefs (regardless of anything reality has to say in the matter).
    Yes, this post. These are the posts that elevate police brutality against a skin colour as if a systemic fact when these are, in fact, the outliers. Honesty and integrity and truthfulness evaporate under such conditions in the flames of this woke ideology, in the certainty of virtue by which these posts and the entire Left Wing media narrative operate.

    Promoting this ideological narrative that everything is about race is racist. This post itself is a promotion of this race-based narrative regardless of intention. Promoting this ideological race-based narrative is EXACTLY what Martin Luther King told us needed to CHANGE to reach that mountain top, to reach the dream he had for his children, the dream that equality comes only by judging others on the quality of their character rather than what is going on from coast to coast here today: judging as you are doing here by the colour of police officer’s skin.

    For shame.

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    1. Tildeb:

      You and I have been over this territory too many times to belabor it once more. I wish more than anything that America were a color-blind society, we were all judged by the content of our characters, and there was no such thing as racism–as well as any other isms. Sadly, that’s not the case.

      You have grossly mischaracterized me, my positions, and the complexities of life in our country, and I feel no need to defend myself against your diatribe. And if you don’t think what you wrote was a diatribe, here is a response I received via my contact folder from a tired gentleman who just happens to live in Canada:

      “Well Annie, it’s another banner day on annieasksyou: you ask how to break through the hatred and the very first comment is just brimming with it.
      I applaud your attempts to have a dialogue, but I can’t do it anymore. I’ve really tried to understand Americans, but I feel like I understand all too well now.”

      Please don’t respond again. You’ve made your feelings known. That’s quite enough.

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    2. I can’t express myself nearly as fluidly as Tileb can, but I observe that:
      • I am glad to Tileb is with me in believing that Trump should not be re-elected, and, apparently, Tileb will be voting for Joe Bidden.
      • Also, I understand that Trump will turn acts of destruction, large and small, and the real pain that those cause, into elements of his campaign.

      Beyond that Tileb and I just have a different understanding of racism in America:

      • Racism has been a feature of American society since our founding. Hence, I don’t understand his first sentence: “The entire Left of the political spectrum… has utterly and abjectly failed to address the deplorable [400 year] rise of racism”

      • I trust Tileb will not accuse me of RightThink, TurthSpeak, intolerance, etc. when I speak about what I understand. I am not black, but I have black relatives by marriage, black work colleagues, black friends and acquaintances. As I have spoken to them over the years, their stories of treatment by police, and other elements of society, is widely different from the experience of my white relatives, friends, work colleagues and acquaintances. Based on my observations, the problem of racially disparate treatment is not a case of outliers, but is systemic.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Allan. I think we all wish the problem would go away, but denying it exists. as Tildeb does, and blaming those of us who disagree and would like to see it changed, as she also does, seems to me to play into trump’s hands quite nicely.
        I don’t see how anyone who watches that video won’t be moved by it.

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      2. If you think I’m denying racism, you haven’t read what I wrote and don’t grasp why I’m claiming you are exercising it by repeating the same narrative and looking at real problems through a racialized lens. By doing so, I am claiming you and much of the Left are providing the only fuel Trump has to win this election. But don’t take my word for it: have a listen. The message is important to hear and even more important to act upon and DO YOUR PART.

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  2. Systemic racism HAS been addressed and racism has been in the process of being dismantled for generations. That’s why the Civil Rights Act was passed, why exercising discrimination on the basis of race is illegal. Until now. That’s the rise in racism I’m talking about, the narrative that everything is about race and that we need to make changes based on presuming racism is systemic. It’s not. It’s illegal. And there are excellent REASONS for disparity in many rates cited as ‘systemic racism’ that has NOTHING to do with race and everything to do with criminality.

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    1. I’m so glad you watched the video, mistermuse. I felt it was one of the clearest, most moving descriptions I’ve seen or heard. I agree: if he were willing, he’d be a real asset on the campaign trail.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The main problem is not the looting and arson per se, it’s the fact that it’s being committed against innocent parties who have nothing to do with the issues being protested. If I got beaten up by the police, that would not give me the right to come to your house and smash up your stuff when you had nothing to do with it, and if I did, you’d rightly be outraged if it were brushed aside as a side issue with lofty words about “the voice of the unheard”. Also, the violence is escalating. There have been cases of “protesters” blocking traffic pointing guns at cars. People have been assaulted and seriously injured. A Trump supporter was shot and killed here in Portland yesterday. It would be insane to think that all this is not going to erode support for the protests — and lead to rising concerns about law and order, which are likely to help the Republicans, especially if largely Democratic-run cities refuse to take effective action against the violence.

    There’s abundant evidence globally that protest movements become less likely to succeed if they turn violent. What on Earth is the point of using tactics that turn people against your cause and increase the risk of your enemies getting re-elected? Nobody should be minimizing this or making excuses for it.

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    1. I hear you. I have not been sufficiently aware of the degree of escalation. I did just read about the latest shooting.

      But I guess I have difficulty seeing it as a “tactic” of the demonstrators because I believe the vast majority of them remain nonviolent. I am hoping for a quick end to the violence that helps us gain clarity with regard to who the bad actors are. And I wanted to make clear that the true bad actor is trump, who has been fueling such hatred since he called for the death penalty for the accused young men in the Central Park jogger case even after they were found innocent.
      I see this moment of reckoning over our racial injustice as one that must be seized and spur us to positive action. If it isn’t, I fear even darker days are ahead.

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      1. I have difficulty seeing it as a “tactic” of the demonstrators because I believe the vast majority of them remain nonviolent.

        The vast majority of individual police officers have never shot a black person, yet we rightly recognize unjustified police shootings of black people as a crisis, and recognize that the victims and their families, and those who live in fear of the same thing happening to them, must be listened to, and that strong action must be taken to deal with the problem. The issue is not what proportion of police are doing it, the issue is that it’s a clear pattern of behavior which is endangering innocent people. We have no patience with those who try to downplay it. I’m just saying that the escalating violence which always seems to accompany these protests raises the same principle.

        When a mob of thugs destroys a small business which somebody spent a lifetime building up, leaving him destitute, and liberals sitting comfortably out of danger in the suburbs hand-wave it away as “the voice of the unheard”, this is just as bad as the rationalizations the right-wingers use to downplay and minimize police shootings. The left has self-destructed before by trying to downplay violent crime and the fear it creates, and by name-calling those who raise the issue instead of listening to them. We can’t afford to risk that happening again. Not with such an important election at stake.

        We need to condemn and eradicate racist police killings and condemn and eradicate mob violence against innocent people which wears a fig leaf of political motivation. A society can address more than one problem at the same time.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I wish people could spend a few days and nights in CHOP – Capital Hill Occupied Protest (there’s a reason why it was renamed from CHAZ- Capital Hill Autonomous Zone) and see what ‘Utopia’ looks like up close and personal… with 50 times the murder rate from before the occupation and ongoing protesting… and see all shuttered businesses and talk with small business owners about how this movement has broken their lives and dreams, live with the night time mob violence and beatings between the ‘occupying’ warlords and their daily protesting ‘warriors’. I also wish people understood a least a bit of history about the police precinct that was targeted by the protesting ‘progressives’ (mostly white affluent young ideologues) that was funded and built by the minority residents – including many black residents – who wanted a police presence closer than what had been available but is now occupied by those claiming to want to help ‘protect’ this area of the city from the big bad ‘racist’ police department and see what acceptable ‘justice’ looks like when the mob descends on council members homes and demands police defunding be voted on or suffer personal ‘consequences’ of not voting correctly, how the black Chief of Police had her salary arbitrarily cut by 40% by this method of intimidation and has since resigned, how police throughout the area are now demoralized by this moral/political/ideological capitulation to the mob where white citizens attack many middle-aged black police officers every 12 hour shift they work every night, night after night, in the name of ‘anti-racism’ and appreciate the consequences that ensue, that have spurred retirement applications by police hundreds of percent higher than from before the ‘occupation’, that recruiting is dismal, that the local economy has been affected so far to the tune of $200 million of taxable income that has evaporated, and that there is no end in sight to any of these growing problems. This is anarchy made real but played down as some kind of trivial blip, nothing to see here folks, move along and pretend a Biden Presidency will make it all go away because, hey, white supremacists are at its root. That’s just delusional thinking bordering on a religious belief that it must be true because it is believed to be true. No, the root is anti-liberal ideology in practice, and it requires never-ending violence and protest to sustain itself, fooling people into thinking it is a progressive movement addressing injustice rather than what it really is in reality: anarchy that is regressive and destructive and criminal in every sense of the word. All it can do is divide and destroy real lives of real people but any criticism is automatically categorized as racist.

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  4. Infidel,
    I have written before about the terrible tragedy of shopkeepers, first struck by Covid and then by arsonists.

    I do condemn the violence. I said that in my piece—in retrospect, not strongly enough. But eventually we as a society are going to have to realize that we can’t keep ignoring the tinderboxes in our cities except when they erupt. Maybe my timing was off to raise that now, but I’ve been rereading James Baldwin, and the combination of his messages, the hopeful image of all those diverse peaceful marchers after George Floyd’s murder, and the wrenching sadness of Doc Rivers’ statement really got to me. I realize you are closer to these dreadful events. and are seeing things more clearly than I.

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  5. Just finished catching up on your articles after a week away with the kids and some really in-depth pieces as always. The footage from Kenosha was grim beyond belief. It is difficult for me to understand that the cops’ first (and last) recourse was to aim a firearm at someone in those circumstances. I am always wary of commenting upon circumstances where we haven’t heard all protagonists’ stories, but for officers to behave in that way just staggered me. Surely, surely cops must demonstrate they have exhausted all reasonable means of deescalation before aiming, let alone firing a gun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope you enjoyed your week away with your kids!

      It’s all very disheartening, and unfortunately, the ensuing violence is playing right into Trump’s hands. We must hope that the authorities can end it; yet another death—this time in Oregon. And we simply must find better ways to train police in deescalation. I wish some dedicated young Americans were pursuing doctorates in policing—we need fresh eyes to find substantive, data-driven ways so that all communities would have reason to believe the police were there to protect them.

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      1. From what I’ve heard you’re absolutely right. I think change will come, but whether the US police choose to be a part of that change is another matter. The status quo with deaths and protests feels pretty unsustainable to me across the pond.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Maybe some. But police officers need training and public support to do this very difficult job. The first can be mandated (like in Toronto – see this heroism in action after a van has just run over a dozen women and girls intentionally) but the second in large part depends on media. And right now, the media is the first to promote an anti-police and racist narrative, which is then used as the basis upon which so much further negative press – and blogs – is then widely distributed as if an unbiased reference to that supposed racism that supposedly caused the police action. THAT reliance on narrative-as-if-true is a major contributor to causing a Blue Line feeling of Us (civilians of all ethnicity in police uniform) vs Them (hostile anti-police supporters) when, in fact, police are an essential ingredient to any and all peace, order, and good government. Their job is to enforce the law. (When they don’t? See Montreal 1 day police strike – google 1969 Montreal police strike.)

        When all is said and done and all the narratives have been passionately expressed, we must remember: the police ARE us. What kind of job are we doing?

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      3. Tildeb–
        Although I welcome spirited debate on my blog, I also insist upon civility. As your first comment was far below that standard, I asked you not to send additional responses. You ignored my request, sending five lengthy comments. I will not engage with you, but I also will not permit any further responses from you. You’ve made many points with which I disagree, and I do not want any other readers to interpret my silence as agreement. I am once again asking you to refrain from responding. If you disregard this request, your comment will not appear on this post.

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    1. That video just got to me so profoundly. The combo of “We keep loving America but she just doesn’t love us back”; “All I want to do is coach but they have to keep reminding me of the color of my skin”; and “We just want what the Constitution says—to be protected like everyone else.”

      What could be clearer or fairer?
      Thanks, Marleen. Good to see you here.

      Like

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