It started with a knee

October 22, 2020

The NBA players and the stance they took this COVID infested season deserves a spot in history. Many people talk about the Civil Rights marches of the 60’s as defining moments in US history. The marches and speeches from that time were impactful. The stance the NBA players have taken this past season on social injustice is on the level with the events of the 60’s. People may not admit it, but the path the NBA players have used was laid by the social protests of one man. Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit, then kneel ,during the National Anthem during the 2016 NFL season paved the way for NBA players in 2020.

I was talking to a Christian scholar who pointed to the fact that the NBA players were following what Kaepernick did in the NFL. I thought about this and had to say that there was some validity to their point. Kaepernick did pave the way for modern pro athletes to use the platform they have and public image for more than selling Nikes. The concept of using their famous faces to speak out against social injustice has been adopted by LeBron James and other NBA players. Even though the NBA played games in a bubble, the message got out to the public via the backs of jerseys. The Milwaukee Bucks took social protest to another level by refusing to take the court during the 2020 Orlando Magic playoff series. This level of protest from professional athletes has never been observed in the USA.

You have to wonder about how the USA would look if NBA players had taken a similar stance on social injustice in the 80’s and 90’s. What if NBA legends like Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan had spoken out like LeBron and modern NBA players have done? In the 80’s social consciousness was the norm in the African American community. Rap music was saturated with social consciousness. The average African American teen wore African medallions and had a concept of what was going on in the USA. What kind of impact on the African American community would Jordan have made if he told Nike that he refused to wear their shoes unless they said, “End racism?” What if Magic had taken a knee or refused to stand during the National Anthem in one of the NBA Finals games he played in? Would the African American community be so socially blind in 2020?

The Detroit Pistons were the Bad Boys of the late 80’s. What if the team had really been bad and decided to not play a playoff game in protest of the high murder rate in Detroit at the time? How would these actions combined with socially conscious rap music from groups like Public Enemy have impacted the African American community? You have to understand that the African American youth of the 80’s are now the parents and in some cases grandparents of 2020. Would the African American community have fallen into such a state of retardation that exists in 2020? For example, would the 40-plus African American male still be wearing sagging jeans and jerseys in 2020? Would the African American female be so identity-blind to the point she believes weave is her real hair? I think not.

Kudos to the 2020 NBA players for taking a stance on social injustice in the USA. These 2020 players in three months have done more to bring to light the plight of African Americans than their predecessors did in five decades. Hopefully the NBA players will continue to stand and be a positive voice for the African American community. Just think about it good people. The way for the 2020 NBA protest was paved by a man born in Milwaukee, WI back in 1987.

Frank James IV © 2020

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not of the Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper or NCON Communication, its staff or management. “Being Frank” is a bi-weekly column exclusive to the Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper.