The death of George Floyd & Breonna Taylor has our nation on tilt. Protest have been going on nationwide, as people are stepping up to the plate and demanding a change. Black people both rich and poor are affected by these issues because at the end of the day they’re still Black.
If you’re active on social media you will see a bevy of influential Black people using their platforms to speak about the injustices that take place in our country especially police brutality. One of the first people you think of when it comes to that is NBA superstar LeBron James. However LeBron isn’t the first Black athlete / entertainer to do this and he won’t be the last.
I was conflicted in writing this piece because I always think about that clip of the great Malcolm X stating that in the white community athletes, musicians & entertainers aren’t leaders and we shouldn’t expect them to be in the black community.
While I agree with Malcolm one hundred percent, times have changed.
Malcolm X was referring to a time where Black celebrities didn’t have the voice and impact that they do now. This was a time before social media where everything we saw was controlled by the media. Now we have the outlets to express ourselves and reach millions of people just by hitting send.
In the 1960’s, we had athletes like the great Muhammad Ali (R.I.P) sentenced to 5 years in prison and stripped of his World Heavyweight Boxing Title after being convicted of draft evasion. Ali also never shied away about speaking about racial issues in America.
We can also look back to the time where the Queen Of Soul Aretha Franklin (R.I.P) offered to post bail for Angela Davis. Which we see artist like Jay-Z & Beyoncé doing.
Another example is when Tommie Smith and John Carlos rose black glove fists for human rights after winning gold & bronze medals in the 200m sprint during the 1968 Olympics.
I posted those examples because they are just some of the instances where our Black celebrities used their star power to speak out about situations and provide support for the cause that is justice and equality for Black Americans.
Fast forward to today, we have people like J. Cole, Dennis Smith Jr., Keke Palmer, Malcolm Brogdon, Damian Lillard & even Kanye West (who once sported MAGA hats and sat down with Trump) as well as many other black celebs joining protest because they know how much these deaths affect them and their families.
That is not to say that there still isn’t some very coonish behavior going on with Black celebs because we see it everyday. However, it is up to us whether we give those people attention or not.
Black celebs don’t have to speak out but they should because their voices are much louder than the average person protesting. They will be heard by someone who can’t relate to the struggle of being black in America but will accept it because it’s coming from someone who they admire.
Black celebs using their voice to help fight for justice isn’t something new and isn’t something that’s stopping anytime soon.