Message heard loud and clear when many sports leagues protested the shooting of Jacob Blake
by Bill Neal
For New Pittsburgh Courier
All things considered, let us not remain confused by what Brother Malcolm meant. Clearly at that time, in that time, a message was being sent and it was clear – “…to bring about the complete independence of people of African descent here in the Western Hemisphere, and first here in the United States, and bring about the freedom of these people by any means necessary” (Malcolm X).
Now of course, your recollection of those now-iconic words gives you immediate reason to believe that it spoke only of violent means. But to understand the statement, clearly it does not suggest only violent means. It says, “…by any means necessary!” (Malcolm X).
If we look at it and accept it in its total meaning, then we should have no problem supporting the NBA players and all the other sports teams and individuals for stepping off their perspective playing fields last week in a show of solidarity…In other words, whatever it takes.
As we all know and have been taught all our lives, sometimes actions can speak louder than words and it’s clear to me that LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Doc Rivers, members of the WNBA, MLB and the NFL felt their actions would speak volumes and it did. To say it was “the shot” not heard around the world would be an understatement. But don’t get it twisted little Johnny, the rippling effect was powerful and global. Never have words ever been truer, hit in the pocket where it hurts, that will get their attention.
For those that didn’t hear, after Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a White Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer, on Aug. 23, the Milwaukee Bucks protested by not playing their playoff game a few days later. That prompted the entire NBA to shut down for three days, while players discussed if they would even want to return to the court. In the same realm, multiple MLB games were postponed, along with the NHL and Major League Soccer. The WNBA was postponed, too. Eventually, everyone returned to the court or field, but a statement had been made, unlike at any other time in American history.
And just a little sidebar here for the record…and keep in mind no one bleeds Black and Gold more than I do. But your Pittsburgh Steelers took a sidestep out of the light by announcing their position through Coach Tomlin as opposed to shutting it down. That is not the action I expect from the rule-setter, aka, “The Rooney Rule,” that I was hoping for. Further discussion for another time!!! No…wait a minute…the heck with that. I put off the last time they stayed in the tunnel to avoid taking a knee. Come on, Pittsburgh Steelers, how abut backing up those stronger-than-hate, hard-as-steel quotes posted all over town.
Nuff said, back to the matter at hand. Not only do I applaud the boycott, I think it’s long overdue. Remember, I am the guy that wrote in this very paper about a year ago that if on any given Saturday if every college football player in America from Slippery Rock to Alabama shut it down for the day, they would be able to get anything they wanted from the NCAA or NAIA…the right to own their own name, be paid to perform and transfer colleges the same way coaches do.
However, yet again I digress. Here’s the point…no movement ever moved with extreme cause and effect. The great Frederick Douglass put it best…if you’re looking for and wanting an end result, the sure way to get it is “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!” Coupled with hitting them where it hurts, and results are soon to be gained.
Case in point, if games are not played and of course for humanitarian reasons, there are no commercials sold, no cars parked, no programs printed, no refreshments, no officials or security, then ultimately, no owners make a dime. If you think after that snowball gets rolling that messages aren’t getting to police departments, mayors, governors, congressmen, senators, and even to the bump on the log at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, you are sadly mistaken.
To be sure, it won’t happen overnight, and it won’t be easy. Change is never easy, but sometimes it’s necessary and this is the most necessary time we’ve encountered since Dr. King spoke of the dream and it’s sad but true, we are still after the dream.
But hear this and hear it well. While Dr. King spoke defiantly of “The Dream,” the reinforcement of that vision was made matter-of-factly and by no uncertain terms by Brother Malcolm:
“By Any Means Necessary!”