LeBron James is not your property and being black in America is tough.
The first part of that statement needs to be said in light of the N-word being vandalized on his Los Angeles home this morning. The second part are words spoken by James along with the rest of his extremely enlightened quote:
“(This incident) just shows that racism will always be a part of the world, part of America. Hate in America, especially for African-Americans, is living every day. It is hidden most days. It is alive every single day. I think back to Emmett Till’s mom and the reason she had an open casket, she wanted to show the world what her son went through in terms of a hate crime in America. No matter how much money you have, how famous you are, how much people admire you, being black in America is tough.”
I cannot say I’ve ever seen the full effect of the black American life. Race envelops so much of our culture, our livelihoods, our social structure, that I find myself learning to try to look at every angle when it comes to race and embrace my own shortcomings on the subject so I can be open to new ideas and growth.
Yet, I got a glimpse into the window of the type of racial animus James faces during my senior year of college. It was at the beginning of that academic year (2010) that “The Decision” happened. LeBron was a free agent that summer and had narrowed down his choices to staying with Cleveland or joining friend and fellow NBA-er Dwayne Wade in Miami. He “took his talents to South Beach” and the Cleveland area exploded.
When I got back to school late in the summer, many of my white friends and acquaintances had changed. People I had known for years who worshipped LeBron wanted him shot, hung and destroyed. They were ready to end his life because he had “disrespected Cleveland and sold out to Miami.” It was more than just basketball, there was a distinct plantation mentality to the situation, which is why I was so shocked he went back, despite the enormous professional success he has had since returning.
He’s not the only one that has been treated in such a way. When Kevin Durant traded Oklahoma City for Oakland prior to the start of the current NBA season, it had the same effect. Similar situations might occur if Steph Curry left Golden State, John Wall left Washington or Anthony Davis departed the Pelicans.
Professional athletes may lead dramatically different lives than the majority of the population, but that doesn’t detract from their humanity. LeBron James is not your property. Kevin Durant is not your property. To dehumanize and denigrate any person is wrong, to do so due to their race, religion or any other form of identity is beyond the pale.
Black Lives Matter.