"America is not equal. It's more divided than it's been in half a century and the Laura Ingraham's of the world are the problem."
With seemingly any other occupation, people are pretty much free to be objective and speak their minds when it comes to national issues, politics, activism, etcetera. When it comes to athletes, though, especially black athletes, they are told to stick to their profession and shut up about social or political issues…unless they are white, of course.
Obviously, the most notable as of late was Colin Kaepernick risking his entire career simply because he knelt for the national anthem. But on February 16, 2018, it was Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham telling Lebron James to “shut up and dribble,” and leave political comments to people that didn’t head to the NBA a year early out of high school.
The first amendment is all good as long as it’s something ‘the people’ approve of you speaking out about. That seemed to be the case with the national anthem protests of the last two years in the NFL and now, Lebron James.
Before Cleveland and Golden State’s last regular-season meeting of the year, Kevin Durant and James drove around Akron, OH with Sportscenter’s Cari Champion talking about everything from parenting, to the All-Star game, to hot topics in our country. As the topic shifted to race in America and Donald Trump, that’s when things got interesting.
Lebron: “The climate is hot. The No. 1 job in America, the appointed person is someone who doesn’t understand the people and really don’t give a f**k about the people. When I was growing up, there were three jobs that you looked to for inspiration or you felt like these were the people that could give me life: It was the President of the United States, it was whoever was the best in sports, and then it was like the greatest musician at the time. You never thought you could be them, but you can grab inspiration from them. If there was a neighborhood African-American cop, and he was cool as hell coming around, I felt like I could be him. I never felt like I could be the President of the United States, but I grabbed inspiration from that. At this time right now, with the President of the United States, it’s a bad time, and while we cannot change what comes out of that man’s mouth, we can continue to alert the people who watch us, that listen to us, that this is not the way.”
Durant: “When we’re talking about leadership and what’s going on in our country, it’s all about leadership, and I learned that playing basketball. I learned a lot of life skills from playing basketball. You need to empower people, you need to encourage people, and that’s what builds a great team. And I feel like our team as a country is not run by a great coach.”
James: “It’s not even a surprise when he says something. It’s laughable.”
Champion: “It’s laughable, but it’s also scary because I shouldn’t be numb to your racist comments.”
“Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately, a lot of kids and some adults take these ignorant comments seriously,” said Ingraham on Thursday evening. “This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA, and it’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball.”
First of all, Lebron is one of the best basketball players to ever play the game. Let’s get that straight immediately. What has the man done wrong? Leave his hometown Cleveland for Miami when he was 25 years old? The reality is that Lebron is a stand-up guy. He’s married, raised his kids seemingly the correct way, raised $6 million in charities and hasn’t been a part of any major controversy during his 15 year NBA career.
James also came from a single-parent and 16-year old mother. Life was difficult for James and his mother Gloria, moving from apartment-to-apartment on a regular basis, while she had rough times finding steady work.
These are the types of persevering stories that we love to hear. Making it from literally nothing, learning from the past and making a better life in a completely law-abiding way. It shouldn’t matter what the profession is, his achievements (before the age of 40) deserve the same accolades as a summa cum laude graduate who received a Ph.D. in neuroscience.
America is not equal. It’s more divided than it’s been in half a century and the Laura Ingraham’s of the world are the problem. Donald Trump has empowered many people in the closet about race to speak out on how they really feel and now, in 2018, it’s like we’re back in a race war. The only difference is that people of color have legal rights, power, and authority.