With the hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Florida and Texas, a nuclear North Korea, the eternal war in Afghanistan, Russian interference in the elections and the repeated failures on legislation and in the courts, our Pop Culture President and his rallying rabble of Alabama yahoos had a good time whoopin’ and hollarin’ calling Black men “s.o.b.s” and screaming how they should be fired for kneeling during the national anthem– in protest of the criminal justice system and police brutality.
And then, with 70% of the NFL being Black and the conclusive link between playing football and the brain injury known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), from repeated blows to the head, the president added to the insult by bringing his fists together to show a “beautiful hit” and says the league is being soft in their newfound concern for head injuries.
In disdain for human life in general and Black life in particular, Trump found a receptive audience in Alabama, where there were 347 lynchings between 1882 and 1968, according to information compiled by the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). Alabama had its last lynching in 1981 by the Ku Klux Klan in Mobile. “This was not ‘frontier justice’ carried out by a few marginalized vigilantes or extremists,” says the EJI report, speaking of the early lynchings. “Instead, many African-Americans who were never accused of any crime were tortured and murdered in front of picnicking spectators (including elected officials and prominent citizens) for bumping into a white person, or wearing their military uniforms after World War I, or not using the appropriate title when addressing a white person.”
And now the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those picnickers were gathered around to hear what this loathsome, arrogant, preening and aggressively ignorant man, who is their champion, had to say. This is the base of his base, and after enduring eight years of the measured thoughtfulness of President Barack Obama, they finally could exult in having someone who says he loves them for the white supremacists they are and who speaks to them with respect and in language they can understand.
This is what the Presidency of the United States has come to, a bastion of white supremacy that leaves you sputtering for ways to describe the depths to where the country is being taken by this snake-eyed delusional huckster, who leads like it’s all TV.
On the other hand, absent his divisiveness, we would not have felt the pride of watching Black men standing in support of each other. “We’re brothers. Mess with one of us, mess with all of us,” one said. “A man doesn’t often get a chance to stand for something. This was my chance and I took it,” said another player.
And these men don’t just stand with each other, they stand tall with the communities they come from as well.
The magazine Bleacher Report lists the following: Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh donated $2.6 million to Nebraska in 2011 and $250,000 to his high school in 2013. The LeBron James Family Foundation focuses on children, with $41 million in 2015 to send 1,100 kids to school.
The Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson supports children with his “Why Not You” Foundation and the “Russell Wilson Hospital”.
Warrick Dunn has a Home for the Holidays program, which gives single parents a home. Dunn has provided more than 100 homes for these families.
After Hurricane Katrina, he challenged each NFL player to donate $5,000, resulting in about $5 million being raised for Katrina relief.
Writing for Black Voices on the Huffington Post, Zahara Hill reported that Martellus Bennett of the Green Bay Packers pledged to donate all of the sales from his jersey to after-school programs. And his brother Michael said he’d be giving all of the money from his 2017 endorsement deals to charities that cater to minorities and the empowerment of Black women.
And Colin Kaepernick has donated $700,000 of his $1 million pledge to 24 organizations.
This is only the tip of the iceberg of men who compete on the field to win the game, and off the field to see who can be the most creative with their giving.
These are men in brotherhood with each other and with their people. And even when kneeling they are head and shoulders above that man in the White House.
And in all of this we see how unintended consequences are often lessons taught by the Lord working in mysterious ways. In throwing red meat to his hyena base, Trump has roused prides of lions who are stretching and flexing and hearing the call to come together. LeBron James has 38.6 million Twitter followers and Stephen Curry has 10.5 million. And one fact that cannot be contested is that these gentlemen know how to keep their eye on the ball. And when you add the players in all the leagues sending out Colin Kaepernick’s original message calling for racial justice to their fans of all races, even briefly, then we may see one of those unintended consequences that cause us to smile and say, “Oh, now I see what God was doing”.