Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
From left: Ahmaud Arbery, Jason Whitlock, and LeBron James.
From left: Ahmaud Arbery, Jason Whitlock, and LeBron James.
Photo: Getty

This is a column about three black athletes.

One was a former high school football player in Georgia, who was murdered while jogging, because he was black.

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One is the most famous basketball player on Earth, who has overcome countless obstacles, because he’s black.

The other is a former football player who’s become a well-paid sellout who cherishes the fact that he gets to write things that make white people comfortable about their privileges, as he has chosen to be their mouthpiece, because he’s black.

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Don’t ever say black people aren’t diverse.

Ahmaud Arbery has become the latest hashtag, as his murder recently gained national attention after the video of his lynching was released. For those who didn’t know, a noose and a tree aren’t always needed for a lynching, as the definition describes it as the killing of someone by a mob for an alleged offense without a legal trial. And when you’re hunted down and murdered in the street during your daily jog just because someone thinks you “fit the profile,” two racists — who walked free for months before being arrested on May 7— can definitely be a mob, or a crowd.

Eight years after Trayvon Martin made every black person in the country pause before they put on a hoodie, Arbery has become Trayvon 2.0. Because if you think we’re cautious about wearing a sweatshirt, you can be sure we’re going to be triggered about running outside at a steady pace.

“Not long ago I mentioned to a group of white people that I never run at night because of the dangers of being a large black man running in the dark. I instantly knew they thought I was being extra. Turns out I was being understated. Ahmaud Arbery was running in the daytime,” tweeted American author and educator Jelani Cobb.

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Black people were already exhausted due to a pandemic that’s caused a wealth disparity that’s seen 95 percent of black-owned business shut out of coronavirus relief. The last thing we need is to be afraid to even go for a run while we’re already confined to our homes.

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On Wednesday, James used his platform to speak up about Arbery.

“We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes! Can’t even go for a damn jog man! Like WTF man are you kidding me?!?!?!?!?!? No man fr ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!! I’m sorry Ahmaud(Rest In Paradise) and my prayers and blessings sent to the heavens above to your family!!🙏🏾✊🏾❤️ #StayWoke #ProfiledCauseWeAreSimplyBlack 😢😢,” he wrote in a social media post.

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We’ve seen James do this before with Trayvon, and at the Espys, and even when he had the N-word spray-painted on his home.

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“It just goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America,” James said back then. “Hate in America, especially for African-Americans, is living every day. Even though that it’s concealed most of the time, even though people hide their faces and will say things about you, and then when they see you they smile in your face. It’s alive every single day.”

He added: “No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough. And we’ve got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African-Americans until we feel equal in America.”

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As you can see, James’ tweets on Wednesday were on brand for him. There’s a pattern there.

But on the same day, Whitlock used his platform to tear down James’ words on Arbery.

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“This isn’t helpful. It’s twitter trolling. It’s using this man’s tragedy to build a brand as more outspoken than Michael Jordan. There are all kinds of ways to draw attention to this tragedy. Suggesting that we are hunted everyday/every time is just shit-stirring,” he wrote directly above James’ tweet.

We’ve seen Whitlock do this before, with Michael Bennett, Serena Williams, and Colin Kaepernick.

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As you can see, his tweets on Wednesday were on brand for him. There’s a pattern there.

“@GBI_GA Director Reynolds has offered resources & manpower to D.A. Durden to ensure a thorough, independent investigation into the death of #AhmaudArbery. Georgians deserve answers. State law enforcement stands ready to ensure justice is served,” tweeted Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday.

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You know things are bad when a Southern Republican governor who stole a gubernatorial election from a black woman, and was used as a pawn by Trump, is even calling for justice in a place like Brunswick, Georgia.

To call 2020 a year for the ages would be a vast understatement, and we’re not even at the halfway point yet.

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Ahmaud Arbery is why I watch every time an unarmed black person is killed because they’re black. It’s also why I pay close attention to the actions of black athletes like James, and the dangerous “black” media members like Whitlock.

Because in the end, it never hurts to be reminded just how America actually feels about you, while also keeping note of who is an ally and who is an operative.

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This was a column about three black athletes.

One is trying to do some good for the world, and his people.

One is using white people’s fear as a weapon, against his own.

And one is resting in peace, because he’s black.

Saginaw Native. Morehouse Man. Syracuse (Newhouse) Alum. 2019 NABJ Award Winner. 2016 PABJ Journalist of the Year. I only eat my wings lemon-peppered. And I like brown liquor & brown women.

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