First, a note. A friend once told me he could not in good conscience promote my site. He said that 'politics and sports don't mix.' To an extent, he had a valid point. I get it. Part of me wondered whether his opposition would have been the same had we shared the same views, but that passed quickly.
While it would seem prescient to avoid the concept; it also seems impossible within today's societal context. We have asked players for several decades to 'do more' and to 'be role models' to our youth and condemn their inaction. Yet, as soon as they get involved with important issues, we want to back away from the topics?Pretty sure that is the standard bearer for a double-standard.
Now the comment. A person who I know to be a fair minded person mentioned via social media that the National Anthem protests have not had the desired impact. I.E., there was no national conversation regarding racial imbalance in the American Justice System.
This statement is true, but misses the point. Why is it that we are not having this discussion? Why is it that a year into the debates, no one is having those very needed discussions? Of course, the answer is simple - because the people who will not like the tone, tenor and ultimate conclusions of that discussion do not want to have that discussion. The people who refuse to admit that there is indeed racial discrimination within the American Justice system keep us focused on 'what' the players are doing rather than why. No one wants to hear the answer.
Who are the four people above? They are the primary proof that the American Justice system is fundamentally flawed and needs significant corrections before it tears our nation apart. The four men above are inexorably linked by the justice system, rape culture, and our blindness to systemic racism. From left to right they are: Corey Batey, Brian Banks, Brock Turner and Aaron Persky.
What do they have in common? Three of the men were convicted of rape; the other was a judge on one of those cases.
Corey Batey, convicted of raping and videotaping the brutal assault while a football player at Vanderbilt, received a sentence of 15-40 years in prison.
Brian Banks, while 16 years old, and a standout football player with a scholarship offer from USC was convicted of rape and sentenced to five years in adult prison plus five years of parole to follow.
Brock Turner, while a swimmer at Stanford convicted of raping and videotaping the brutal assault, received a sentence of 6 months in prison.
Aaron Persky was the judge in Turner's case. His reasoning (given a full year after the conviction) was that "California law requires every judge to consider rehabilitation and probation for first-time offenders."
That sounds like a nice, eloquent defense of a horrific decision - except that Brian Banks was a first time offender; and Brian Banks lived in California. Where it gets worse? Brian Banks was innocent. The girl admitted under oath it was a lie because she was mad at him. She had sued the school for money (and won) and watched a young man's life destroyed. But Brock Turner suffered no such fate.
It would be a nice easy bow to wrap to say it was 'really about money, not race' but it is simply not true. The inherent bias in this American Judicial system has no such limitations as income. What we know is this: per 100,000 people, Caucasians have an incarceration rate of 678/100,000; Hispanic/Latinos have a rate of 1,775/100,000 and Black men have an incarceration rate of 4,347/100,000. That means those of Hispanic/Latino heritage are 2.6 times more likely than white men to be in prison and Black men are 6.4 times more likely to be in jail.
There are really only two reasons this could be the case; one is implausible and the other is inherent racism. White Supremacists will tell you that it is the first - that Black and Hispanic men are more violent than white men. Science, though, would say something completely different. Empirical science shows, simply put, that this is systemic, institutional racism at play. Judge Persky proves that even within his own state, where "the law requires" probation and rehab, men of different backgrounds are treated differently.
This is the conversation that people are afraid to have - the facts do not support their beliefs and it scares the hell out of a lot of people. But, you know what, when I was in Marine Corps boot camp; I got scared. When I was flying from leave back to 29 Palms and heard that we might be going into Libya; I got scared. I did not cower down to that fear, I stood up, faced it like a man and was ready to perform my duty as an American Citizen and a United States Marine.
We need to stop being afraid to admit that there is a significant amount of systemic racism in the judicial system. Do you want the protests to stop? Then do something about the cause. Stop focusing on the what and start focusing on the why.
Until we do that, all we are is radio gaga. People enraged over the refusal of either side to have the tough conversation. Fear will kill us if we do not stand up to it. So, don't be mad at a football or basketball player take a knee, take one with them and start talking about how we can change the injustice that is so prevalent in our society.