Do black athletes, among the most visible and well-paid members of their communities, have a responsibility to support Obama? Perhaps the better question is: Did it ever even occur to them to?
How many of them thought it through and decided to remain silent (rather than officially oppose the brother), and how many just never saw the connection to themselves? I'm willing to bet most of them will vote for Obama (though I'm not willing to bet most of them will vote). So why not play a role in the biggest opportunity facing the community that supports them so fervently (too fervently, IMnotsoHO)?
Turns out that few in this group have either donated to his campaign or publicly endorsed him.
From News One:
Charles Barkley, a longtime Republican, recently changed his tune, and has publicly supported Barack Obama. However, many high profile African American athletes (both active and retired) have been extremely quiet in the face of this historic election. Still there are several high profile athletes who have not publicly or privately supported any candidate. Of the Dream Team that traveled to Beijing, not one member has donated to Obama's campaign or publicly supported him. No current NFL All Star has endorsed Obama in any form or fashion. It would well worth the fine if T.O. took off his Jersey to reveal an Obama T-Shirt after a touchdown. At a time when every sector of the black community has taken time to make sacrifices for an Obama presidency, black athletes, part of the most wealthy sectors of the black community, have been quiet.
The piece concludes with a helpful list of black athletes who have taken a stand for Obama.
Now, I'm as tired as the next black person of being constantly told how I'm supposed to be black, but some things cross a line. Given the place athletes hold in the culture and in their communities, if they believe Obama should be president, they should say so. With cash and with words. Yes, multi-millionaire athletes have a responsibility to both their community and their nation, which in my mind is the same thing. Nothing can be good for black America that's bad for America and vice versa, just as nothing can be good for your son that's bad for your daughter, or you shouldn't do it. One might get over in the interim, but long term, we're all one unit. I think they just don't care. They've got their McMansions and their Barbie wives and the adulation and no sense of responsibility. Certainly no sense of history and the piddling sacrifices confronting them today. They should be ashamed, because it's entirely likely that these silent athletes are silent for one reason and one reason only (besides sloth): money.
From Duke University:
This summer marks the 40th anniversary of the famous black power protest at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
Two American sprinters, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, raised black-gloved fists on the medal stand during the Star Spangled Banner. They wanted to spotlight poverty and racism just months after the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. and riots in Newark and Detroit.
Can we expect any such protests at the Beijing Olympics this summer?
No. The era of the activist athlete is over. We've entered the age of the corporate sports champion, the superstar as a global brand who shies from politics to keep full market share.
Those two athletes put their very lives on the line when they put their fists in the air: Both suffered so much from the fallout that they fell out with each other. Whoever this T.O. person is, all he's worried about is Nike, Adidas, and when he can afford a private plane.
Oprah risked her empire. Colin Powell may have just evicted himself from the GOP. Even the cretins at NRO couldn't remain silent when Sarah Palin was exhibited as their poster girl. But if LeBron James could refuse to sign a letter protesting China's role in Darfur lest Nike look askance, I guess there's no hope for Obama. Badasses on the basketball court or gridiron, greedy cowards everywhere else. So little is asked of blacks in public life these days, and still it's not little enough.