Racism, Basketball and Why LeBron will Not Shut up


Chido Nwangwu, Founder, USAfrica commends the courage of African-American basketball superstar, LeBron James for deploying his immense wealth and influence against racism and inequality in the United States of America

“It’s just so sad….and they’re spewing this fear, right. Like, all you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear.
We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones who are denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot,” he continued, his voice cracking with emotion. “And all you do is keep hearing about fear. It’s amazing. Why do we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.”

Doc Rivers, head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers broke down and cried as he talked about the police officers shooting at the back of yet another young Black man, unarmed and walking away, Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. With those words, the consciences of millions of Americans were awakened and sensitized to the facts of the painful discrimination and psychological trauma inflicted on Blacks in America.
The video went viral and reminded Black folks of 500 years of slavery.

Black lives, as far back since the ancient Greece and the Roman era, were expected to be limited to entertainment and provision of minstrels. Black men were used for brutal gladiatorial events to entertain White leaders and emperors. Sometimes, they were thrown into the lions den. Yes, you guessed right: to see the survival of the fittest.
They were to be seen but not to be heard. This was carried into the slave era and post-slavery.

From music through basketball and baseball and multiple forms of entertainment they were simply told to shut up and dance.

Now, on the same issue of racism, let’s turn to LeBron James, America’s Number One basketball superstar and leader of the Los Angeles Lakers. I think, in some ways, he reflects the duality of the daily lives of the younger generation and the financially upper class African Americans.
There is the duality of blessings and achievements versus frustrations and fears of being harassed or killed, most likely by policemen.
Regardless, he does not exactly deal with the kind of racist combustion faced by poor African-American youths all over America. Why? It’s all about the Benjamins! Money!

Through the combination of his extraordinary skills as a basketball player, reasonable foresight as a business investor and the important component of personal and professional discipline, LeBron has since catapulted himself from the high school phenom to a global superstar worth more than thousands who have played the game before him.

But I must say to LeBron James’ credit that he has been speaking up and putting pressure through organizing other superstars, resisting and rejecting police brutality and systemic racism. I commend him.

More important is the fact that he’s no longer simply another entertainer; he has grown in stature and substance by the fact of his social influence on public issues especially racism and justice in America.

I am very happy that he has passed the stage where anyone will tell him to “shut up and dribbble.”

Despite his money and fame he’s aware of the fact at the end of the day-after he displays his talent and capacity on the basketball courts, his fundamental existential realities remain: he has to deal with both systemic racism and the random, individualized ugliness of anti-Black and anti-African heritage bigotry.

Therefore, the most important point and the challenge of our time will be to_understand that the recognition, value and respect of Black lives do not amount to the denigration of White lives. I am for the equality of human lives.