LeBron James is a tall, muscular and strong African American man. He’s been playing in the National Basketball League for over a decade. He earns millions of dollars a year and is loved by African, European and Asian people across the globe.
However, James is not loved by all and that was made crystal clear this past week when it was reported LeBron’s Los Angeles home was vandalized with racist graffiti. LeBron who was preparing for his first game of the NBA finals when asked by a reporter about the incident responded by saying, “It’s tough being black in America.”
I allowed LeBron’s statement to sink in and then thought to myself, “What do you expect him to say?”
It is not as if LeBron is playing for an exclusive black audience. It is not as if he is playing for a league owned by African Americans. It is not as if he is endorsing products created and marketed for African Americans or Africans in general.
He is an athlete who can’t say much. He is an African American athlete surrounded by other African American males who could care less about the environment they live in. As long as they are made to feel special and comfortable they could care less about the welfare of the fellow brothers and sisters by and large.
Jim Brown the famed footballer who was an outspoken advocate for African Americans during his playing career in the NFL during the 60 and 70’s: “Involved himself in charity work and in 1972 organized Food First, a program that sent food to Marshall County, Mississippi, the nation’s poorest county.”(1) Yet, even Jim Brown, outspoken and resolute as he was had his limits.
However, we have to applaud LeBron for what he has done. LeBron James has in the past, unlike Michael Jordan, given voice to the unlawful killing of African American males and has not shied away at supporting causes which sought to illuminate racist white behavior.
LeBron James is just a soldier in a larger war doing his part. But at least he is doing his part. We have to keep that in mind as African men and women.