“Where are the white athletes?”
When the issue of social justice protests in sports comes up, there are a few athletes that immediately come to mind: Colin Kaepernick, Malcolm Jenkins, LeBron James, Eric Reid, Steph Curry, and Marshawn Lynch.
But there’s mostly been a deafening silence from white athletes on issues which tend to directly affect people of color.
Chris Long of the Philadelphia Eagles is one white player who has vocally supported the NFL’s social justice movement. He’s even gone so far as to donate is entire 2017 salary to organizations that support educational equality.
Photo by Keith Allison/Flickr.
The backlash NFL players have faced for their on-field protests has come predominantly from white fans. This puts white athletes in the unique position to bridge this cultural divide, but few are embracing the opportunity.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett believes nothing will change until white players stand up. “It would take a white player to really get things changed,” Bennett said on ESPN’s SportsCenter, adding, “because when somebody from the other side understands and they step up and they speak up about it, it would change the whole conversation. Because you bring somebody who doesn’t really have to be a part of the conversation, making himself vulnerable in front of it, I think when that happens, things will really take a big jump.”
Image by NBA/YouTube.
NBA legend Oscar Robertson is also speaking out about the need for white athletes to be more vocal.
After receiving a Lifetime Achievement award at last night’s NBA Awards, Robertson praised LeBron James for being an advocate for social change while calling for more activism from white players.
Oscar Robertson on athlete's responsibilities in 2018. pic.twitter.com/h2OOeTlx9w— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 26, 2018\n
“They’ve seen some injustice in the streets or wherever it might be, it might be almost anywhere, and they’re stepping up. But the only thing that really bothers me is, where are the white athletes when this is happening?
This is not a black athlete problem. You see injustice in the world. It’s all around you. Just because LeBron steps out, I’m glad he does. I hope some other players — because this is what they believe — I mean, what do you want players to do? Shut up and dribble? I think it’s time for them to say what they want to say about life and about politics and things about the street and whatnot.”