This piece was posted nearly two hours before Jaylen Brown announced he was leaving Kanye West’s Donda Sports marketing firm. It has been updated with the latest news.
Being the Boston Celtic player to speak about Bill Russell on opening night, in front of the world, while in Boston, at the start of the first-ever NBA season in just months after the namesake of the Finals MVP trophy had passed is both a tremendous honor and responsibility. Fortunately, the Celtics had in their own locker room the ideal person to address the world — Jaylen Brown.
During the 2020 NBA bubble, the NBA relaxed its rules on players being required to stand for the national anthem. The Celtics took part, and before Brown took any questions from the media after scoring 30 points in a victory against the Portland Trail Blazers he had something that he wanted to get off of his chest.
“Angela Davis once said that racism is so dangerous not because of individual actors, because it’s deeply embedded in the apparatus,” Brown told the media. “I think about that quote a lot when I think about the national anthem which was written by Francis Scott Key, who was a slave owner.”
That’s why proactive measures should always be taken to attempt to root out racism. The very song written during a war in which America fought off intruders to hold onto its status as a sovereign nation, was written by a person who was holding human beings in bondage at that time. This song is still the anthem that plays to display ultimate American pride, more than 200 years later.
An astute observation from Brown shouldn’t be a surprise. Going into his freshman year at California he wasn’t only putting in work on his game. This top-five recruit was taking steps so that he would be able to enroll in a graduate-level course — Theoretical Foundations for the Cultural Studies of Sport and Education — once the school year began. Brown being so thoughtful and putting in so much work on the front lines for justice makes the fact that he is in business with Ye — formerly known as Kanye West — so disappointing.
Updated on Oct. 25, 2022 at 6:50 p.m. EST: But that is no more as Brown announced he is no longer working with Ye’s Donda Sports marketing firm.
“I have always, and will always continue to stand strongly against any antisemitism, hate speech, mistreatment and oppressive rhetoric of any kind,” read a statement from Brown.
Rams defensive lineman and future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald announced that he too would be leaving Donda.
Brown signed with Ye’s Donda Sports marketing firm this past summer. Recently, Ye has been in the news for making antisemitic comments at any given opportunity. It has gotten so bad that all of his mainstream social media accounts are locked and he was dropped by CAA on Monday and Adidas on Tuesday. On Monday, Brown said several times to The Boston Globe that he is against everything that Ye has been saying lately, but he also will not be leaving Donda Sports at this time. Brown has switched gears, and rightfully so, though this repudication should have come much sooner.
Even before Ye started spewing antisemitic bile and wearing a “White Lives Matter” shirt next to Candace Owens, there was no reason for Brown to sign with his sports marketing company. Donda Sports was started long after Ye said “slavery for 400 years, that sound like a choice.” That same day in the TMZ studio Ye “What about Chicago’ed” Van Lathan, who had rebuked him for making asinine, incoherent, and dangerous statements while being interviewed. Yet, Brown told The Globe that he signed with Donda Sports because “it represented education, it represented activism, disruption, it represented single-parent households, and a lot more people are involved in something like that.”
Nothing Ye has said in recent years has given off that he has any of those feelings in his heart. What he has publicly put into the world since he first wore that Make America Great Again hat is white supremacist rhetoric. As the years go by it gets worse and worse.
I find it hard to believe that Brown would give Ye’s buddy, Owens, the time of day. This woman sat in front of Congress and said, “Based on the hierarchy of what’s impacting minority Americans, if I had to make a list of 100 things, white nationalism would not make the list. White supremacy and white nationalism is not a problem that is harming Black America.”
That’s pretty much the exact opposite of what Brown said in The Bubble back in 2020. Yet, Ye has spoken glowingly about Owens for years and now is about to purchase her husband’s struggling far right-wing social media network. She was there with Ye at the TMZ studios when he abandoned his race and hometown for everyone with eyes to see and ears to hear. She was quiet when he was babbling nonsense about whatever self-actualization he believes he has achieved, but jumped in the conversation like Brown catching an alley-oop when he went on that absurd Black-on-Black crime rant.
The world can be an ugly place. There is a good chance that exploited child labor is sewing the clothes on your back, and mining the cobalt that makes your smartphone function. Soccer fans from every corner of the globe are going to watch the World Cup in Qatar, even though more than 6,500 migrant workers died while constructing the stadiums as of 2021, according to The Guardian.
In order to live, people at some point participate in the oppression and death of others. However, there is room to say no at some point. It was wholly unnecessary for Brown to do business with a company whose leader is preaching against everyone and everything that he is fighting for.
Ye might be in the middle of a manic episode. He has admitted to being bipolar, and while not all people who suffer from mental health issues say and do hurtful things there are also some who do. If Brown is friends with Ye and feels he needs some help, he should try his best to do so. But, by not leaving, Brown would do damage to his name. A name that just last week was rightfully deemed fit to honor the life of one of the most honorable Americans to ever live.