LeBron James articulated the fears of an entire community last night and sadly the trauma that coincides with it.
When Police in Kenosha, Wis., repeatedly shot Jacob Blake in the back at close range on Sunday, an entire race once again had to endure the trauma of seeing an individual have his life nearly taken by people who are supposed to “serve and protect.”
Blake is now paralyzed from the gunshot wounds, yet thankfully he is still alive. For Black Americans like James, seeing the video footage of Blake nearly losing his life is a frightening reality that is far too common for darker-skinned people in America.
“I know people get tired of hearing me say it, but we are scared as Black people in America,” James said during his postgame interview after defeating the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA Playoffs on Monday. “Black men, black women, black kids, we are terrified.”
“If you’re sitting here and telling me that there was no way to subdue that gentleman or detain him or just before the firing of guns, then you’re sitting here and lying to not only me, but you’re lying to every African American, every Black person in the community,” James stated. “Because we see it over and over and over.”
Many have argued over the past few days that if Blake had simply followed directions from the officer that day he’d still be able to walk. It’s a claim that we still don’t know entirely to be true because of the lack of evidence presented. However, even if Blake were being disobedient, should the price of disobedience towards law enforcement be your livelihood?
Should walking away from an officer result in multiple bullets in your back?
Do your kids who were in the car with you that day deserve to witness a lifelong traumatic event because an officer couldn’t do his job effectively?
The answer to all of these questions is no, and if you have to think about the answer to any one of these questions you’re lost.
The officers involved have been put on administrative leave after the incident. It’s another step seen by many Black people as unsatisfactory after video evidence clearly shows excessive use of deadly force.
James took his comments a step further on Monday night and also spoke about America’s problems with gun violence in general.
“I think firearms are a huge issue in America,” James said. “I don’t know how you clean that up. I’m not saying that I’ve got all the answers, but guns are – they are a huge issue in America, and they’re not used for just hunting that a lot of people do for sport. Right now for black people, right now when you’re hunting, we think you’re hunting us.”
James has been outspoken on many of the societal ills in this country and has even started a nonprofit organization called More Than A Vote to combat voter suppression. James said in an interview with TNT that he still believes voting is the catalyst for change in our society. Earlier today, a source close to More Than A Vote told Reuters that the group plans to roll out its efforts later this week.
However, no matter what immediate action people will take in the next coming months, the video of Blake is an eerie reminder that shows this country that even after months of being racially awakened there are still problems that need to be addressed.
This is no time to take the foot off the gas. As long as the system still exists there will be more videos like the one from Wisconsin.
“You have no idea how that cop that day left the house.” James said. “You don’t know if he woke up on the good side of the bed. You don’t know if he woke up on the wrong side of the bed. You don’t know if he had an argument at home with a significant other if one of his kids said something crazy to him and he left the house steaming. Or maybe he just left the house saying today is going to be the end for one of these black people.”
The time is now for change, Black Americans shouldn’t have to deal with this trauma any longer.