If 2020 could speak, it would emphasize the importance of change. It does not necessarily mean changing out of work clothes after a long day or an Instagram theme.
It means to change organizations and their techniques, particularly police departments. How does one achieve this? It starts with a discussion, followed by action. This is what the NBA is currently demonstrating in a historical fashion. They are working hard to prove that black lives matter and that real change is made.
Change Beyond the Ball
Change is beyond the bubble. A question that often pops up is the effectiveness of a boycott. Will everything change today? Probably not. Tomorrow? Unlikely, but action starts now. It is better than silence. Silence is not golden. The NBA supporting the boycotts is essential because this brings more discussion and engagement among each other, especially on social media.
Society will catch on and realize that there has been a problem with police brutality throughout history, especially towards the black community. Sometimes it just takes talking about it. Sports as a whole has that platform to do so, especially the NBA, who is statistically the most diverse of the four main professional leagues.
The postseason is continuing, but it does not mean that the job is done.
A key example is how the United States initially handled the COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t until sports leagues canceled games when Americans, as a whole, began to recognize the severity of COVID-19. What is the ongoing theme here? A wake-up call that change is needed more than ever. Because you can’t have sports without human rights.
Human Rights Before Sports
If anything, sports exist as part of human rights, dating back to 17th century England. At the time, sports were established for the wealthy royals and lords, causing a class issue. Not allowing lower classes to participate was a violation of human rights due to forcing them to become a lords slave. How does 17th century England connect to modern society? Sports do not exist without social issues.
The sports industry, particularly in the US, has grown and expanded to its current status now because of social issues. Not discussing social issues in the black community, even after Jacob Blake’s paralysis, will create a domino effect above BLM. As a woman of color pursuing the sports industry, I have constantly been warned through professionals’ horror stories of racism, especially towards the black community, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, you name it.
Dragging BLM and this social issue under the ground allows the Dan Snyders and Donald Sterlings of the workforce to continue to degrade others for their sexuality, religion, and race. In other words; they have the green light to continue their cruel and bigoted actions towards others, particularly the black community. Black Lives Matter because an innocent black man or woman should not fall into the hands of police brutality even after complying with cops. A 17-year-old white male should not be walking freely after firing and killing 2 protesters because of his inspiration to become a police officer.
History Speaks into Existence
If you know a historian or have watched/read accurate documentaries and biographies, you would recognize how the black community has consistently suffered through so much pain before the US was even a country. I understand the financial aspect of boycotting a season, especially with the CBA concerns in 2021. However, the NBA will be fine in the long run. The most important part right now is to grab that key underneath the rug and open the door to change. The black community has suffered for so long. It is time for a change, which will also simultaneously help all minority groups.
Muhammad Ali has done it by sacrificing his reputation as an American, opting to not serve in the Vietnam War. Jesse Owens did so at the Olympics and broke the race barrier in Nazi Germany. Billie Jean King advocated for anti-sex discrimination and influenced the 1972 Title IX legislation, before defeating Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes.” Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists during the 1968 Olympics. What did all of these historical and powerful moments lead to? Change.
Why Change is Over Due
Change is the most powerful thing you can do, even if it is as simple as switching out of those sweatpants to some slacks. It is not coincidental that the boycotts also fall on the four-year anniversary of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem. Change is the epitome of awareness and love, which all starts with Black Lives Matter. Nothing else matters if their lives are on stake everyday for simply sleeping in a car or even under your own bed.
A 12-year-old should not be killed over a toy gun. A person should not cry for help as they are suffocating with a knee on their neck for 7 minutes and 41 seconds. Regardless if the season continues or not, the NBA’s decision to support its players is crucial because of the fact that they take pride in their diverse culture. Diversity and inclusivity were not just values I learned while in undergrad at a small California private school in the Inland Empire, but they are my personal ones. Diversity is a beautiful thing, but nothing can be done without change.
After boycotting, the Milwaukee Bucks attempted to reach Wisconsin attorney general Josh Kaul to demand justice and change. Sterling Brown and George Hill read a prepared statement from the players in front of the media.
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable,” Hill read in the Bucks’ statement.
The Impact of Change Beyond the Ball
Change is necessary and sports will be better than ever, even more so after the coronavirus pandemic. Social issues and justice are not political. BLM is not political. If the black community is not supported and continue to tragically fall into the bloody hands of police brutality and systemic racism, the US will not positively move forward. We fall backward and break our necks. It is 2020. It is time for change.
Yes, there will likely even be a lockdown and other financial problems with the CBA, even with the NBA continuing play this weekend. However, it is all temporary, as so with the pandemic (hopefully). Teams and owners will be fine. The decision to continue the postseason does not make Wednesday’s actions meaningless. It shows that you have a voice, along with the players’ humanity. Change is forever. Human lives are worth more than property. The players are human beyond high salaries.
As Tupac Shakur rapped, “let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live, and let’s change the way we treat each other.”
Because Black. Lives. Matter.
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