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“It’s Called Leverage”

Chris Broussard is a sports columnist for ESPN (Yes, I pay for it — I already told you I love the NBA). I would have to say that I read ESPN’s Insider articles daily, it’s a habit that I acquired while playing fantasy basketball (just above poker, I contend), and while it sounds crazy to say in this day and age that I love pro basketball, there is nothing quite like a league of absolute physical freaks who can be astoundingly graceful and coordinated while exhibiting such raw athletic power without pads (the occasional thug excepted).

I’ve come to realize that we as Asian Americans owe a great debt to African Americans for our civil rights and present luxuries, if not our own “model minority” status. And yet, as my good friend Josh points out, we are still very much estranged. I think part of this must be taken on by prominent Asian Americans who are willing to fill “social concerns” here (a la Sivin Kit‘s verbiage), and while our civil rights came as a byproduct from blacks, perhaps it’s time for us Asian Americans who have, by and large, higher incomes, better educations, more economic opportunities, move “leverage” to repay our Black Americans by sticking up for them as well.

I particularly want to press into Asian American Christians because our notions of justice and equality should be tied into the Judeo-Christian concept of shalom, or peace, which demands a justice that restores, replenishes, rescues, and fights oppression. To ignore this duty is something that I want to say is a disservice to the God we serve and the gifts we’ve been given as a people.

The following excerpt is from an article from Chris’ blog [emphasis mine], where he calls out for black athletes to take a stance against Donald Sterling (the owner of the LA Clippers because Sterling had apparently refused black tenants in his buildings). As a side note, the NBA did not intervene because it was considered a non-NBA related activity, but I believe that the onus is upon Koreans who have gain, to demand equality for our brothers.

I’d like to see today’s black athletes (and entertainers) be more aggressive in using their status and resources to tackle the problems, racial and otherwise, that confront African-Americans.

I often hear the contrasting viewpoint that “white athletes aren’t called on to speak out for the white community.” But we must realize that the historical and contemporary situations of white and black Americans are complete opposites.

Collective black progress in this country has always occurred because more fortunate blacks reached back to help less fortunate ones. If former slaves such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman had just chilled, enjoyed freedom and said “I’m going for mine,” there’s no telling how much longer blacks may have remained enslaved.

If Dr. King and Thurgood Marshall, neither of whom was poverty stricken, hadn’t fought for disenfranchised blacks, there’s no telling how much longer Jim Crow segregation would have lasted. And there’s no telling whether or not America would have opened up enough for all these mega-rich ball players to become cultural icons. These brothas’ owe their riches and their prominence to the courageous blacks before them who weren’t afraid to speak up.

I’m not saying I expect a basketball player to become Thurgood Marshall, but today’s African-American athletes and entertainers are the most visible, most influential, most beloved, and in the eyes of some white Americans (including apparently Sterling), most valuable black people in the country.

Black athletes provide white America with something it feels it needs — great entertainment. Some within white America may not feel like they need the young brotha’ in inner-city Cleveland who can’t rap or play ball, but they know they need LeBron James or Shaquille O’Neal. In other words, our athletes have something many blacks do not.

It’s called leverage.

So when our athletes speak, Americans of all races listen. I won’t even go all the way back to Ali. Charles Barkley sparked a national discussion on “athletes as role models” with one commercial, and Tiger Woods challenged everyone’s views on what it means to be biracial in America.

That’s why black America wants its athletes to take a stand — because we know that with one word, one act, they can make things better and fairer for the masses of blacks who lack the power to affect such change…

About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

One response to ““It’s Called Leverage”

  1. elderj

    you bring tears to my eyes

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