How Black Male Athletes Are Redefining What It Means To Empower Women

They’re helping women get out of environments where they live in fear.

Photo via AP; illustration by Tyler Hoehne.

My father's in prison for killing a woman. I was raised by a notorious pimp from the South Side of Chicago.

Up until age 13, I, like millions of other young brothers, not only thought this was the norm but that I was on a fast track to repeat the doomed lineage of black men who would retire to a jail cell — or else to take solace in the misguidedly celebrated back alleys of ghetto folklore.

I can vividly remember the black eyes my momma and aunts wore like mini chocolate pancakes stuck to their faces as the scent of expensive cologne tap-danced in my nostrils, polluting my young mind with the fascination of fine threads and hot cars.

But today, some black athletes are changing the narrative to ensure that black women are supported, protected, and empowered.

In recent years, the Lean In campaign has expanded to become one of the many organizations that encourage men in sports to stand next to women in their fight for equality. Steph Curry, of the Golden State Warriors, and Dwyane Wade and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers have all joined the Lean in Together fight, which commits to the process of opening doors for women.

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]What does it truly mean for black athletes to empower women? To some, it means ensuring their momma and sisters are removed from environments where they live in fear. [/quote]

James is motivated by the love and value system set in place by his mother, who was 16 when she gave birth to him. In a 2014 tribute to her, James shared his mother’s impact on his life:

“The truth is that everything I’ve learned about being a parent to my boys — 9-year-old LeBron Jr. and 6-year-old Bryce — I learned from my mother. Everything I know about being loving and caring, and sacrificing and showing up and being present in my children’s lives — I learned all of that from her example.”

In the James family, this energy to give back to the community is contagious. His wife Savannah operates the LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education, which helps students from struggling Ohio schools succeed. In 2015, the foundation also spent millions of dollars to send Akron kids to college, providing the support that was sometimes out of reach for their families.

Black women have not only been the foundation of the black community — they’re the backbone of society too. According to a 2010 study by the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 72% of children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock.

For black athletes raised by single moms, giving back to the women who raised them isn’t just an Instagram moment — it’s an obligation. When a player signs that contract, the proudest moment of his life is buying his momma a new house.

As a kid, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of the Portland Trail Blazers watched his single mother work as a dietary supervisor and bartender to keep the lights on. With an absent father, who was in and out of jail, Hollis-Jefferson embraced his role as “the man of the house.”

He was able to thank his mother for her sacrifices by surprising her with a new home, buying it practically before the ink on his NBA contract dried.

“It’s every kid’s dream to one day get their mom out of the situation that they’re in. It’s very touching for us to be able to do it,” Hollis-Jefferson told the New York Post. “Instead of worrying about where your mom is going, what she’s doing, it puts you at ease knowing she has a place of her own, and that she has somewhere to lay her head at night. It’s pretty special.”

A mother’s unwavering support fosters the determination, ambition, and courage needed in the everyday struggle of “making it.” They offer love as thick as former NBA All-Star Allen Iverson’s mom’s trademark red lipstick and bejeweled fingers — a glow reminiscent of a modern-day Nefertiti — her voice sometimes echoing courtside: “That’s my baby!”

What does it truly mean for black athletes to empower women? To some, it means ensuring their momma and sisters are removed from environments where they live in fear.

The great American poet the Notorious B.I.G. said, “Either you're slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot.” This brilliantly illustrates the journey of some young black athletes who spend years practicing their finger rolls on crates and dodging cars in the city streets like linebackers with only one goal: getting momma out the ghetto.

via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet