Award shows and obnoxious political statements sometimes go hand in hand. Last night at the ESPYs was a pleasant surprise. The show opened with a discussion of the recent shootings in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Minnesota. But then Lebron James asked a simple question of the celebrities in the audience: “What are you doing?”
We all feel frustrated and helpless by the violence, but that is not acceptable. It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, what are we doing to create change?”
“Tonight we’re honoring Muhammad Ali, the GOAT. But to do his legacy any justice, let’s use this moment as a call to action to all professional athletes to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence and renounce all violence and, most importantly, go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them. We all have to do better.”
Lebron isn’t the first sports star to speak out (see POWERFUL: NFL Star Ray Lewis Puts #BlackLivesMatter on Notice and What Richard Sherman REALLY Said about #BlackLivesMatter). But it’s good to hear this week. A nice contrast from last year’s show, which gave Bruce Jenner an award for courage that totally wasn’t a publicity stunt (shameless sarcasm).
Note that Lebron didn’t call out the cops. He didn’t call out #BlackLivesMatter either. By explicitly not taking a side… he’s taking a side. Because if you’re #BlackLivesMatter there’s only one entity to blame: racist cops. But what Lebron is saying is much different. He’s addressing ills in the community. He’s imploring celebrities to go back to their communities and help institute change. At the ground level.
In other words, Lebron is encouraging his fellow sports stars, who roll in fat stacks of cash like it’s a detoxification bath, to stop with the virtue signaling, take a golden plane ride home, and invest in the areas from which they came to foster healthy relationships with the people in that community. Lebron didn’t say (he didn’t need to say), that people everywhere need better attitudes.
In fact Lebron’s message was similar to David Brown, the Chief of Police in Dallas. Stop protesting, start contributing to the solution.
But likely, Lebron will be chastised for not calling all cops racist dingleberries. Because that’s what #BlackLivesMatter does…