At a time of national confusion, fear, and anxiety that hasn’t been felt since the immediate aftermath of 9/11, one professional wants his colleagues to stand up and take action.
Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony issued the call in a message that made its way to the back page of the New York Daily News. Here’s the full text of it:
“The system is Broken. Point blank period. It has been this way forever. Martin Luther King marched. Malcolm X rebelled. Muhammad Ali literally fought of US. Our anger should be towards the system. If the system doesn’t change we will continue to turn on the TVs and see the same thing. We have to put the pressure on the people in charge in order to get this thing we call JUSTICE right. A march doesn’t work. We tried that. I’ve tried that. A couple social media post/tweet doesn’t work. We’ve all tried that. That didn’t work. Shooting 11 cops and killing 5 WILL NOT work. While I don’t have a solution, and I’m pretty sure a lot of people don’t have a solution, we need to come together more than anything at this time. We need each other. These politicians have to step up and fight for change. Go to your local officials, leaders, congressman, assemblymen/assemblywoman and demand change. There’s NO more sitting back and being afraid of tackling and addressing political issues anymore. Those days are long gone. We have to step up and take charge. We can’t worry about what endorsements we gonna lose or whose going to look at us crazy. I need your voices to be heard. We can demand change. We just have to be willing to. THE TIME IS NOW. I’M all in. Take Charge. Take Action. DEMAND CHANGE. Carmelo Anthony.”
It’s a far cry from the neutrality on political issues that most high-profile athletes have embraced, following the lead of Michael Jordan’s “Republicans buy sneakers, too” line that he possibly never actually uttered, but that he staunchly followed. In 2015, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar called Jordan out for his decision to ignore social issues in the name of maximizing his earning potential.
“You can’t be afraid of losing shoe sales if you’re worried about your civil and human rights,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “He took commerce over conscience. It’s unfortunate for him, but he’s gotta live with it.”
Commerce over conscience. Conscience over commerce. It’s an even tougher balance to strike today, when social media allows every kook and aberration to grab a megaphone and tell anyone who exercises their voice to “stick to sports” or worse. And so the process for all athletes to take action starts with adopting a hard shell and ignoring the noise, primarily because 99 percent of it comes from roughly one percent of the population that no one should be listening to, anyway.
Solutions still won’t be easy, but they’re impossible if we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by a very loud and very small minority who will say outlandish things while tucked inside the warm blanket of a keyboard. So our message is that Anthony is right; change is needed. To the extent that NFL players decided to respond to Anthony’s call for change. we will support and share their efforts here, in the hopes that meaningful, productive, and positive change that brings us together as a people with a shared desire to live our lives freely and within the boundaries of the law.
Making America great isn’t about flexing muscles, talking tough, or shouting down anyone who may criticize us or disagree with the way we want to do things. It’s about working together with a true sense of cooperation and only one agenda: To do the right thing, for everyone.