Tag: Football

jenkins

I hope NFL players didn’t protest with the expectation that all of white America would care about black suffering; that would be like seeing an Orthodox Muslim eat pork chops — never happen. NFL owners have apparently agreed to hand over $89 million to help fund organizations and causes specific to black communities. From the United Negro College Fund to local organizations fighting for social justice, several entities stand to benefit. Some see the move as a quid pro quo, a hollow gesture aimed at simply getting the players to stop kneeling. If that is true I say sellout — stand for the anthem, take the money and use it to further black institutions. Waiting for a group of rich, conservative white men to care deeply about black suffering is foolish.

Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers isn’t ecstatic about this deal. Frankly, it will cost the owners nothing — they’re merely shifting money previously earmarked for other charitable causes. My answer is, “so what?” Malcolm X said, “Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research.” American history illustrates that even in the face of white indifference, green dollars can fund black progress. The Louisiana legislature cared little about the education of black people in 1880 but black politicians advocated for a black institution of higher learning and their request was granted. In 1890 the legislature designated Southern as a land grant college for blacks in order to uphold segregation while satisfying federal requirements to educate all students. The state legislature in Louisiana did not (and perhaps still doesn’t) care about the education of black people but Southern University stands today because we were smart enough to take green money from indifferent whites and build black.

The owners don’t actually care about anything the players have been protesting since Kaepernick took a knee last year. The move to shift $89 million to black institutions is a tacit admission by the owners that they’d rather write checks than lift a finger to fight injustice. It’s not personal, however. The money is being taken from breast cancer awareness and the monthlong celebration of the military so we can safely assume that the owners care nothing for those causes, either. NFL team owners care about the bottom line, not black liberation. No amount of protest will change that but the checks owners have agreed to write have the potential to change much, if handled properly.

Most of us will never play in the NFL but we can learn something from it. The causes we hold dear will only be sacred to us. If your car needs an oil change no one outside of you really cares that much. The same is true if your community is experiencing high unemployment. Black people have always lived with this violent indifference from the larger culture. We simply focused on building black, even if our benefactors didn’t have the purest intentions. We may never change white indifference but that doesn’t have to hinder black progress.

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24:  (FILE PHOTO) Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints reacts after a fumble in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings looks on during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Smith and the Saints will take on the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 95653900 GTY ID: 94657

Will Smith was a freakishly fast athlete, but he couldn’t outrun New Orleans. The details of his murder are still hazy, but one thing is for sure: that city killed him. By all accounts, Smith was an upstanding family man who loved the city and contributed a great deal to it; but it wasn’t enough. At 6’3 and weighing 280, he still wasn’t large enough to rise above the realities of New Orleans and neither are we. Regardless of how personally responsible he or any of us are, we’re still vulnerable to the worst elements of our cities. Unless we commit ourselves not only to personal achievement but also participation in radical social transformation, we all remain at risk.