I been holding onto this thought for a while, but what better time than right now.
I asked on Facebook, “What if I felt like LeBron James life and everything said about him was everything WRONG with The Black Delegation in The United States of America….”
To my surprise I received a request for context, early. Something rarely done in this era. I’m glad it at least started there. It gave me a real reason to unpack a my statement.
LeBron James has been nothing short of great as a basketball player and human being, yet many still highlight his flaws, his have nots and compare him to others that he’s not in competition with. It reminds me so much of the self hating, stigmas and perceptions that plague Black America present day. All of those things that seem to stay with us no matter how much great that is known and done in every generation.
If you feel that there is no way LeBron could be the living example, because he has millions and fans, you can stop here and know that I’ve already proven my point. If you’re still interested and intrigued by my stance, let’s take a walk.
How can LeBron James life be an example of the wrong within Black America? Because even in his greatness and achievements, many will highlight his failure or shortcoming. Much like the self hate, color struck or classism that exist amongst the black delegation, we won’t allow ourselves a clean victory in any aspect. Within ourselves we hand out our own asterisks in abundance, but want progression and equality. That’s a tough task.
Present Day, LeBron opens his “I Promise” school. A charitable act of providing free education to the you of Akron, Ohio. Something that should be celebrated amongst us all if for no other reason because he’s a black man doing it during the Trump administration. What do we see in the midst of this? All the positive praise met with a resounding “Jalen Rose got a School too!” “He’s not the first one to do something like this” and “Ok, but he still not better than Jordan.”
Why during a powerful, positive move that benefits the youth of Akron, Ohio and their academic future, does “what LeBron can’t do” have to be highlighted? Why is it now time to highlight others at the expense of making a person or his supporters feel less than?
How is this different from not wanting to support a black business because you grew up with the owner?
How is this different from the countless hours spent online and in real life downplaying the guy or girl that is working on their dream to become an artist/musician because you feel they’re too old to still be doing it?
How is the above different from when we scream for an end to police brutality and the killing of unarmed black men and we’re then asked “what about black on black crime?” As if same race crimes only exist amongst us.
LeBron James has millions of supports and maybe the love truly does outweigh the hate. However, daily, hourly, minute by minute, there is someone who “looks like him” willing to reinforce to others that “look like them” that they are tired of hearing about his accomplishments and want the love shown of his positive efforts to stop. That or they want someone else to be highlighted for being great instead of him.
Why can’t we show love to more than one person at a time? Why do so many feel a light has to dim for the proper shine? These are the same questions asked within the black delegation.
Finally, LeBron gets ostracized for playing the game of life and basketball his way. Making the moves that he wants to make, looking out for himself and his family first. It’s not the norm. It’s not what the players or analyst of old did. However, none of them have used their money or celebrity to cause change or influence like LeBron has. It doesn’t appear that anyone has talked to LeBron about his moves and actions. They just giving their venomous statements and hot takes with surface level context without the willingness to see his side or understand.
Is that much different from the childish “Coon” and “Uncle Tom” name calling and labeling that gets done when issues in politics come up? How bout when the topic of interracial dating comes up for some? Why are the statements and choices so venomous and generalized, instead of a case by case and specified?
From where I sit, LeBron embodies what happens within Black America every day. A race of beautiful, people with an ungodly amount of talent, trying hard to get up every day to be great, stand strong, cause change, show influence, thrive and get what is earned and owed. Yet, can’t seem to let go of the past, be ok with opposing opinions and no open adjusting to change or a new way. Yeah, we’re down to rock the boat, but we all have to 100% agree on how or remain at a standstill. We love our uniqueness, but over concern when others like us seem “too different” from us. It’s unfortunate that “move as one or not at all” is the generalization as if there was only one way to navigate in life.
I get it. LeBron isn’t your favorite basketball player. Cool. He’s not mine either. LeBron may be the Martin or Malcolm you’ve been asking for. And even though he’s not asking you to follow him, it would help if you also got out of his way. He’s quite possibly the best black male figure we have today. And if that statement made you say “But what about Obama?” then you have again proved my point.