In February of 2018, LeBron James took part in an interview on ESPN. During the discussion, the future Hall of Fame player mentioned President Donald Trump. James said, “The No. 1 job in America, the appointed person is someone who doesn’t understand the people.” He later called some of President’s comments, “laughable and scary.” Fox News host, Laura Ingraham, discussed the remarks during her show on the network.

Shut Up and Dribble

James was told to “shut up and dribble.” It wasn’t the first time that an athlete was told to quiet down and focus on the game. However, it is rarely directed so publicly, and towards the caliber of talent like James. It has become a rallying cry for those who wish to shout down opposing opinions. Unsurprisingly, there seems to be a specific group of people who have been drawn to the phrase.

As 2020 has crept forward, providing new ways to be horrified, American society has been forced to confront the injustices and systemic racism that is woven into the fabric of this country. Some of the loudest voices have come from the sports world as their collective platforms have allowed protests on the fields, courts, and rinks of their respective leagues.

Black Lives Matter

For the record, I believe and support Black Lives Matter. It’s a simple concept that doesn’t raise one life over another but rather states the obvious, we can not say that all lives matter equally until black lives matter. As a non-athlete and remarkably middle-class individual, seeing high profile athletes and their leagues take a stand has been a welcomed sight. Athletes such as James, Colin Kaepernick, and others, have spoken out and paid out over these issues. Through charitable donations, creating foundations, or opening schools, these professional athletes have done their part. Now it’s time for us to do our part.

Perhaps the loudest voices have come from the members of the WNBA. The ladies have led the way with protests off the court. Maya Moore has sacrificed the prime of her career to focus on helping with criminal justice reform. This was the second season she has missed. The sports world is taking a stand.

The public must stop asking what the athletes are doing to help. It’s time to ask ourselves what we are doing to make a difference. Are we pushing back against racism? It’s not enough to not be a racist. We need to be anti-racism, full stop. Rather than quickly dismissing the calls from these athletes to fight racial oppression, we need to shut up and listen.

Shut Up and Listen

The system isn’t broken, this is the intended function. For every LeBron James is a Tamir Rice. A child who was failed by an unjust system and received no justice. For every Colin Kaepernick, there is a black or brown child whose family has been impacted by redlining. For all the money and power they have, they are just a small part of society. The rest of us, primarily those who do not share the melanin levels of LeBron James, need to do something. The system won’t be toppled by the group it is set to oppress. It is up to the rest of us to knock it down.

It is time to shut up and listen. Athletes like James and Kaepernick have been speaking on these issues for years. They’ve done so peacefully and respectfully. It is time we support them and fight alongside them. It is time we stop expecting our athletes to do the heavy lifting. Get out and vote for politicians who will push policies to change the system. Pressure those holding office to make changes. Once we’ve listened to the discussion, go fight for our justice system and law enforcement to be held to a higher standard.

President John F. Kennedy stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building and uttered the famous quote “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” It’s time we stop asking what others will do to fix these problems. Let’s do it ourselves.

 

– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage 49ers. He also covered the Arizona Cardinals for Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on

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