BY HENRY-LOUIS TAYLOR, JR.
The NBA players and other professional athletes took a bold step to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This act of resistance was a proud moment in the Black struggle to get free. The players were moved into the bubble to protect them from the coronavirus pandemic, but the bubble could not shield them from the pandemic of racism. The shooting of an unarmed Black man seven times in the back, while his children watched, triggered the desire to fight back. Life is not a game, and this callous shooting demonstrated the need to defund the police and reimagine and create a new public safety system.
Black people have been complaining about police violence for decades, and the shooting and killing goes on. But on this day, The Milwaukee Bucks then bucked the system. They refused to play the Orlando Magic, and the other dominos fell. In an unprecedented moment, the NBA canceled the remaining games for the day.
Some Major League Baseball teams joined the protest. The Black tennis star, Naomi Osaka, said that she would not play in the Western & Southern Open semifinal match. She said, “Before I am an athlete, I am a Black woman.”
This protest by professional athletes is unprecedented and is a reflection of the growing political and cultural divide in the United States. It also reflects the growth of anti-racism, which demands that you act on your opposition to racism.
An anti-racist, as Ibram X. Kendi reminds us, is one who understands that the only way to undo racism is to identify, describe, and then dismantle it.
The protest of these professional basketball players and other professional athletes will not end police violence, but it will help keep the momentum going, and it will remind others that we must all join the fight to destroy system structural racism and the police violence that supports it.