Wait...What about Ellis?
Some say athletes should just stay in their lanes.
As if life doesn't happen to them...
simply because they make their living "playing a game"
As if life doesn't happen to them...
Outside the field of play...
That the only thing of value in their lives are the minutes counted by the play clock or the seconds captured by the stop watch.
As if wearing the American Flag is nothing more than a patch that accessorizes the Team USA uniform.
Like I'm just reciting empty words from rote on the podium as the national anthem plays.
Like we don't want to actually feel like it's an honor to do this...
For this country.
I was in NYC this weekend albeit for less than 24 hours but upon the approach into this storied city I was able to look out over the water and stare at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from my seat for some time.
My first thought was about how most people who consider themselves American have relatives that came from across the Atlantic, waited in long lines, were maybe even quarantined, had their names changed by scriveners who couldn't spell, or understand what was being told to them through bars or windows as thick as the accents they were trying to decipher.
They came because the idea of living a life full of unknowns and uncertainty was a far better prospect than however it was back in the countries they left behind.
Not my ancestors though...
Most of mine came over on different sorts of ships, under different circumstances,
if you know what I mean.
And the other ancestors in my family tree?
Well they were already here, living full lives, hunting, gathering, and reciting oral histories by open fires.
My genealogical history in this country isn't exactly a love affair, I remember trying to use ancestry.com to find my grandparents, and their parents but those records don't exist.
And the few times I've been on an Indian Reservation visiting I've left heartbroken and depressed.
The suicide rate.
We all have pasts and dark histories and if I've learned anything this year it's that total darkness is dispelled in the presence of light no matter how minuscule the flame.
Pasts are prerequisites to the present and those experiences both painful and pleasurable can propel you towards a brighter future.
Denying that this beautiful, complicated country has its roots in persecution, pillage, plunder, blood spill, and oppression is most likely why America hasn't quite yet grown up.
America is kind of like the addict that doesn't fully believe she has a problem.
She believes that she can quit at any time.
Or that if she just had enough money or a good enough job she wouldn't be so frustrated and angry,
And if she weren't so frustrated and angry she wouldn't have to resort to violence, or stealing, or self medicating just to get by.
Yes, America the Beautiful can be highly functioning at times, but she can't suppress her problems for long.
And so we're here now.
And I'm reminded of what Kennedy said during his iconic speech that we should: ask not what our country can do for you, but what we can do for our country.
needs OUR help,
and OUR light.
And when I say "our" I mean every last one of us, regardless of race, religion, creed, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, tax bracket, intellectual prowess...the list goes on.
America is like a child that was left to raise itself...
By parents who believe that with time it'll just figure it out...
And that in the meantime the television will keep them preoccupied and out of trouble.
There aren't enough people asking themselves, "what can I do?"
And too many people asking "what are THEY going to do?"
As if we aren't all stakeholders in this social economy.
And no, we don't all hold the same number of shares.
We aren't all majority owners.
But we are all still owners.
The medical student that graduates last in his/her class is still called Doctor...
And so it remains in our best interest...
To see this country face the circumstances surrounding its birth...
And understand that while everything has changed...
Nothing really has either.
So when someone comments that athletes shouldn't weigh in on political arguments, or use their platform for social commentary and/or critique I say,
That's the American way.
Shine your light.
All of us.
For all of us.
Blogger's Note: The argument that NFL, NBA, or MLB players aren't oppressed and therefore have no reason to protest is irrelevant. I beg you to refer to the sentiment that existed among the Germans and other Europeans in the 30s and 40s, those that remained quiet because they weren't the direct target of the vitriol, because they weren't the ones being directly oppressed and therefore remained silent. Look what they allowed? The oppressed, almost by its very definition are voiceless. All of us have a platform, some larger than others to speak up for those that can't. I don't give a damn where you land on the political spectrum, we all, as American citizens, or at the very least as Human Beings need to care about the world outside of our bubbles. It is your right as a citizen of this country to use your voice. I personally don't even care what you say, or how you vote, you exercising your RIGHT to use your voice insures the right of others to use theirs.
And I see you.
I see the Facebook posts and the twitter rants. Apparently, that's your platform. And you know what? Good for you. You are exercising your right to freedom of speech, and freedom of expression.
But to tell an athlete that they can't have an opinion either way because it's not in our lane???
No. You're very much mistaken...
Sport is my vehicle, and I am in my lane.