For many years, athletes have used their voice and platform to bring attention to issues of social injustice and inequality. Speaking up is nothing new for athletes and its hard to believe that over 50 years after legendary Olympics winners Tommie Smith & John Carlos raised their fists on the Olympic podium, athletes today still have to demonstrate and discuss the same issues.
COVID 19 is not the only pandemic that this country is facing. The injustice of Black and brown people is also a pandemic that does not seem to have an end in sight. The year 2020 has seen many protests, riots and demonstrations as people are angry over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many more whos names don't make it to national attention. Police brutality and abuse of power is an age-long issue that a lot of people seem to try and ignore. But it's hard for people of color to act like these issues don't exist no matter who you they are and like always, some of the most high profile athletes across professional sports have dedicated their time on and off the court/field to bring awareness to the fight.
This season, the WNBA has dedicated their entire season to "Say Her Name", a campaign that brings awareness to the often invisible names and stories of Black women and girls who have been victimized by racist police violence, and provides support to their families. Along with their last name, all the WNBA jerseys reveal the name "Breonna Taylor" a 26 year old EMT from Louisville who was murdered by 4 cops when they entered her home unannounced and opened fire on her and her boyfriend while they were in the bed. The officers responsible for her death have not been charged. The court that the players play on also dons the phrase, Black Lives Matter, a nod to the movement for social justice and equality.
The NBA and MLB have also decided to take a stand as well. The players across all 30 NBA teams also wear phrases associated with the movement on their jerseys including, "Say Their Names", "See Us", "Equality" an "Respect Us". The NBA courts also don the phrase, Black Lives Matter. During opening weekend, the players in the MLB dedicated the season to the Black Lives Matter movement as well. Many of the took a knee during the national anthem while they all held a black sash that was draped across the field.
There are a lot of people that feel as if professional athletes should keep their social views away from the game, but for most of the athletes, they feel it is their duty to use the platform that they have to bring awareness. Millions of people watch professional sports and this may be the only time that they are educated on the issues that the world faces. It is commendable for the leagues and its players to use their voices to benefit people across the country. During one interview, WNBA player Skylar Diggins of the Phoneix Mercury had this to say, '"I'm trying to use my platform for good, for change and for reform. To speak for people who feel like they're not being heard.
There are many ways that we can use our voice from home. Join a local protest in your community, sign an online petition that is demanding justice, and have the difficult conversations with the leaders in your community. If we all unify for the cause, we can create the change that we wish to see in our world. Changes starts with you!