Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Colin Kaepernick and Ibtihaj Muhammad. All four of these individuals have much more in common than you might know. James, Durant, Kaepernick and Muhammad are all minorities, athletes and have voiced their political opinions regarding the state of the union; but, more importantly, they charged toward the Jersey Shore extra that assumed the role of President just a year ago.
Muhammad cemented her place in Olympics history by becoming the first female, Muslim-American to win a medal for the United States in 2016 while fencing and wearing a hijab. Muhammad was originally up in arms after Trump instituted his travel ban which restricted travel from eight nations; Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, North Korea and Venezuela. Although the ban has been deemed unconstitutional twice by two circuit courts, Muhammad still felt as if she was constantly being judged by those around her when she talked to CNN back in August of 2017.
“…Even though I represent Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn’t change how you look and how people perceive you,” said Muhammad in an interview with CNN.
Muhammad was a silent leader in political diversity talks by wearing her hijab while competing and finally vocalizing her qualms when the travel ban hit.
Along with Muhammad, we have Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests that began during the 2017 NFL preseason. Kaepernick was using the stage he was given to address a blight on society: police brutality and the overall maltreatment of minorities. But as soon as the protest began, the “patriotic” portion of the American public was outraged with the display. To them it was a disrespectful gesture against those who fight for our country. But little does everyone know, the National Anthem has racist undertones, and more specifically, a redacted third stanza with oppressive remarks.
“And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Through this verse Francis Scott Key states the pollution, or problem, brought on by the British will be washed away with the blood of slaves and mercenaries.
Once the movement gained a great deal of traction, President Trump decided he’d throw in his two cents.
“Frankly the NFL should have suspended him for one game and he would have never done it again,” said Trump in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity.
While I see that Trump is trying to appeal to American citizens in the armed forces with this comment, he has no continuity in the sides he supports. This was shown when he made the remark that he’d rather have American heroes “who weren’t captured,” when referring to John McCain. No I do not agree with Trump’s remarks, but if he is going to take a stance, how about trying to stick to your guns on an issue instead of flip-flopping when it fits your agenda?
Does taking a political stance as an athlete force that individual to choose between childhood passions and social activism? Because in the case of Kaepernick, the decision was made for him after he threw his hat into the ring.
Since Kaepernick’s kneeled during the National Anthem, he appears to have been blackballed by the league: once a Super Bowl-contending quarterback, benched for what seems to be the rest of his career.
The most recent political “uprising” in the athletic world surfaced when James and Durant spoke about the nation and James said President Trump does not “give a f*** about the people.” The comment and interview as a whole received a lot of flak from Laura Ingraham, who responded by telling James to keep his “Political commentary” to himself and “Shut up and dribble.”
Now, James and Durant are in no way in a position to lose their jobs. They’re two of the main figure heads in the National Basketball Association, so there’s no grey area to say they weren’t good enough to be on rosters, which people used as a cop out for why Kaepernick wasn’t lucky enough to find an NFL team to play for.
To those of you who say politics has no place in sports, I ask you to open your eyes and put yourselves in their shoes. Take a step back and look at the history of sports and politics. The earliest date I can recollect of the two colliding would be the 1968 Olympics where gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos raised the black power fist on the podium. Just like Kaepernick’s protest it was silent but powerful. It represented the start of the social revolution in America led by the Black Panther party and its associates.
Politics has always been in sports, but it’s just become more prevalent due to the technological age we’ve found ourselves in. Every man, woman and child with a voice has the right to speak about the political state of our country. Intelligence is not solely determined by educational status or financial hierarchy. Athletes should continue to use their unique platforms to address and fix the social issues that have plagued our nation for decades.