Talking sports right now seems somewhat trivial, doesn’t it? So I’m not going to for the most part. I’ll touch on it a little because that’s what led me to my computer to try and get out some of my feelings in a semi-coherent manner. But that’s not the main focus of what I’m here to at least try to say.
Most of us that follow sports have a routine of shows we watch or stations or podcasts that we listen to for both our entertainment and our information. Personally speaking I’ve been a fan of ESPN’s Get Up since it premiered two years ago. I’ve seen it go from 3 set co-hosts and 3 hours long to a 2 hour show full of interesting and informative personalities that revolve around that desk, (or screens in these COVID-19 times), during those 120 minutes. If I miss the initial airing of it at 8am I generally switch over to ESPN2 to catch it again at 10. There’s a great blend of fun and factual personalities that surround that table daily that make it entertaining to watch. Hell, it’s even endeared me slightly to Stephen A. Smith.
Monday’s morning routine was no different in that way. It was different today however because of the main topic that was being discussed. Because it wasn’t about sports.
Over the past week we as a nation watched once again, in horror and disgust, as video of a black man begging for his life at the hands of the police surfaced. He was not the first and I fear, sadly, that he won’t be the last. As many of our black brothers and sisters have noted in the past few years, “The violence is not new. The videos are.”
I’ll be honest with you when I say I haven’t watched it. I’m broken enough by the news of it without even seeing it. Personally speaking, I struggle when it comes to hearing about, let alone seeing, violent acts of hatred committed against anyone because of something that is completely out of their control. This includes things such as the color of their skin or their sexual orientation amongst many others. No one deserves to be deliberately targeted for being born into a set of circumstances that are not their choices to make.
A Heart Condition
Yeah, I know I just repeated the title of the piece but it bears worth repeating. What is and has happened recently, and throughout the history of our nation, boils down to something as simple as that. A Heart Condition.
And here’s where I circle back to Get Up for a moment. One of my absolute favorite people I’ve gotten to meet through this show is the “The Big Swagu”, aka Marcus Spears. Between him and Ryan Clark I have spent so many mornings in stitches with laughter. But the performer in me knows that it’s always the funny ones that can break your heart the most.
In this morning’s show Mike Greenberg invited every one of his panelists to speak to what was in their hearts after the events of this weekend. While many of them were eloquent and well spoken as to their feelings, it was around the start of the second hour of the show when Swagu showed up and broke me down in a way that I didn’t think was still possible. You should maybe grab some tissues for this one. Around 2:20 is where it really hits you in the feels. Watch the whole video though, and let it speak for itself.
When I say this is a heart condition I mean it. If these words and this situation doesn’t tug at your heart then I’m not sure if you should even continue reading this because I don’t know that we can reach a common ground when it comes to having to explain to a child why a life was taken away at the hands of another person. Especially one that is supposed to be sworn to protect people’s lives.
As adults we are supposed to be leaders for our children. As Marcus Spears states, it’s an innate desire as a parent to want to give your children a better version of the world than the one you grew up in. As he was being strangled by a knee to his neck by a person whose job it is to keep people safe, it was his mother that George Floyd called out to for help. As a white woman who hopes to be a mother someday I recognize the privilege that not only I will have but that my children will too in this world. They simply will not face the same set of challenges and discrimination that Marcus Spears’ children will. Or that George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and immeasurable amounts of other families will. I can only try my damnedest to make sure that my children are made aware of their constant privilege as they move through the world.
I should note that this is not the full clip from his segment. There is more that Swagu says that is of great note that isn’t included in these 4 and a half minutes. I encourage you to find a way to watch the rest of it. One thing he seemed encouraged by, as he watched footage from the protests, was the variety of skin colors that showed up to speak up for just. And not just justice for George Floyd but for all black people.
Black people have been put at an unfair disadvantage since the moment they stepped foot on this continent. No matter how much they may succeed in terms of societal standards there will always be one thing holding them back that is out of their control. And that is the color of their skin.
The time has long since passed for us as white people to step up and just be their ally. We must also be their advocates.
We must recognize that while they are more than capable for speaking up for themselves, it is our voices that carry greater weight amongst others in our communities.
We must continue to hold not only ourselves, but also our leaders and people in positions of power, to a higher standard and level of accountability than we ever have before.
We must put in the work to educate ourselves as to what privilege and racism actually are and what they look like and function as.
We need to stop relying on our black friends and friends of color to tell us what to do in these situations, and do the work for ourselves so that we are able to accept their advice and their suggestions of how to help in bigger and more beneficial ways.
While we can’t learn all of these lessons overnight, we sure as hell can start and there’s no better moment in history than now. Personally I can speak to the book “White Fragility” as one of the best teaching tools that I have come across so far.
We can read more books by black authors. And watch more movies and tv created by black artists. It’s on us to try and learn and understand things about the black experience that we were never taught in our history books, or could have ever dreamed of trying to relate to because that wasn’t the world we were constantly surrounded by. We consume black culture all the time for our benefit and enjoyment. The very least we can do is stand up for and next to them when they ask to be treated fairly.
Yes, racism is big acts of hatred, but it is also small acts of not calling out others when their implicit bias shows through in their words and actions. As a nation we are so deeply buried in the system of racism that it can be hard to recognize at times.
The United States is at a major crossroads.
We’ve been here before and, while we’ve made progress each time, we’ve never had a bigger stage to perform on. The world is watching us in ways they’ve never been able to before. They are waiting to see what we do next and whether we will act according to the principles of liberty and justice for all that we tend to toss around so casually. They are standing alongside our black brothers and sisters as well. We have another chance to make this right again and show them that we can do better than we have before. Please, let’s not waste it.
Because Black Lives Matter.
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