Whites supporting Black athletes also supporting voter suppression laws (?)

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Lately, when watching TV, you see high school, collegiate, and NFL football venues packed to capacity. The large attendance at these games might be contributed to being cooped in for nearly two years. People are trying to get out and socialize, even though we are by no means out of harm’s way when it comes to containing the coronaviruses. Maybe, focusing on attending these football games acts as a form of therapy that allows introverts an outlet where they can mix with others and be entertained.

Being entertained (especially as it pertains to sports) is a big priority for many Americans. We know football fans are about as passionate as you can get. They can momentarily escape the daily pressures inundating their lives. This is so evident when you see people at these athletic events not wearing a mask and not exercising cautionary measures—even though the coronaviruses are highly contagious and continue to wreak havoc in so many lives. However, the bottom line is that people do what they want to do, even if it means putting others in harm’s way.

But what amazes me as an African American is that many of the Whites attending athletic events are very passionate about supporting their home teams, even to the point of putting clandestine prejudices or racist views aside. They can high-five each other and rant and rave about the extraordinary feats of the athletes on their team  (even on the opposing team). At one time, the camaraderie found among those attending football games was mutual and even nurturing regardless of what team you supported. Many would agree many Whites are very supportive of Black athletes on and off the fields. Where is this passion when it comes to Black people as a whole? What about voter’s rights and voter suppression?

Blatant indifference and racism (while it may have subtly existed) didn’t seem to be an issue at one time. That was because many of the athletes were African Americans helping to propel their teams to victory. It wasn’t until some Black athletes started to peacefully bring attention to social injustice and blatant police brutality occurring in their communities that some White people began to rear their ugly heads. They plainly made it clear that athletic events, especially football games, were strictly for entertainment. Whites verbalized that athletic events were not the appropriate venues to vent social injustices—especially with star players using their celebratory status to bring attention to these social ills. African Americans saw such rhetoric as a slap in the face—as if the pain, suffering, and inequalities facing Black communities were inconsequential.

Many of those empathetic to the injustices facing African Americans asked when and where was the right time to address the concerns of those suffering? Are some people so self-absorbed that they prioritize being entertained more than trying to make a difference in the ills occurring in our communities?

Moving forward, one may wonder why many Whites adamantly support Black athletes, but they’ll go home to districts supporting excessive voting suppression laws. Too often, it appears that the same people so passionate in showing their support and admiration for Black athletes do not share or show the same enthusiasm for other Blacks in their cities or states. It is as if they are making a statement to African Americans: Stay in your place and entertain us, but we are not going to help you empower yourself. You would think that as fellow Americans, we all would be working together to make sure all Americans are encouraged and given all the possible opportunities to vote. But in many cases, we are doing just the opposite in suppressing the ability of some Americans’ voting rights.

Surely the same people screaming insanely and supporting Black athletes in sporting venues can do the same thing in their communities to show support for African Americans and other marginalized people. One must be blind or in denial not to see the hypocrisy of Whites supporting Blacks as a source of entertainment, but being comfortable and content in living in communities supporting strict voter suppression laws.

Talking with a forked tongue is becoming commonplace and often comes back to bite you. It is going to take the righteous indignation of Whites to end these bogus voter suppression laws. I want to believe that we have enough morally led Whites, willing to do the right thing to change the tide against such unnecessary laws.

(P.S.) Arizona was the last state to vote for MLK Day as a national holiday and only came on board due to the public pressure of being boycotted. Ironically, their football team, the Arizona Cardinals, played the Los Angeles Rams on MLK Holiday. It might be seen that they were putting more emphasis on football than on honoring MLK’s Holiday, with its emphasis on acquiring social equality. What do you think?

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