The kneeling has stopped. The messaging on the backs of jerseys has been replaced with last names. Black Lives Matter isn’t plastered on the court. And journalists have ceased asking “those questions” after games. But, the pain is still there – and the racism, too.
This is what happens when Black lives stop mattering in the world, and in sports.
A year after Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League laughably tried to follow in the footsteps of the WNBA, NBA, and NFL when it came to demonstrations and acts of service against racial and social issues, it looks – and feels – like the conviction and sentencing of Derek Chauvin magically “fixed” America’s problems.
On Wednesday, the jury in the case for Ahmaud Arbery’s killing – when three white men chased down a Black jogger and killed him just because – was finalized in Georgia. Of the 12 people that have been chosen to decide their fate, only one of them is Black. When you add up the number of jurors, the defendants, and the victim, there are 16 people involved in this and only two are Black – and one of them is dead. For the math lovers, that’s only 12.5 percent.
Check this out from a report from CNN in which the judge admitted that the defense was trying to whitewash the jury, yet he’s allowing the case to go forward.
“This court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination,” Judge Timothy Walmsley said Wednesday.
“One of the challenges that I think counsel recognized in this case is the racial overtones in the case. … This is sort of the continuation of a conversation that I think will continue for a long time, with respect to this case,” the judge said, but added that in Georgia, “all the defense needs to do is provide that legitimate, nondiscriminatory, clear, reasonably specific and related reason,” for why they struck a juror and he said the defense met that burden.”
So much for that justice that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp called for in May of last year.
And in Wisconsin…
On Monday, Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder ruled that in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial – where the then-17-year-old white man was walking through the street with an AR-15 taking target practice at Black protestors – the people that were shot or killed by Rittenhouse couldn’t be called “victims” because it’s a “loaded term,” but they can be labeled as “rioters,” “looters,” and “arsonists.”
“If more than one of them were engaged in arson, rioting, looting, I’m not going to tell the defense you can’t call them that,” Schroeder said.
“The word ‘victim’ is a loaded, loaded word,” Schroeder explained. “Alleged victim’ is a cousin to it.”
When the police shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times in Kenosha last year, the Milwaukee Bucks postpended a playoff game in protest. They’re scheduled to play the Knicks on Friday night.
Oh, and remember all the work the sports world did to make voting easier before the 2020 Presidential Election? Well, a year later and the NCAA rule changes that allowed student-athletes to take Election Day off so that they could do their civic duty were all but rescinded as teams were allowed to have practice on that day.
It was all good just a year ago.
Last August, during the peak of America’s “racial awakening,” I wrote about how it was inevitable that the sports world would eventually stop caring about Black lives mattering. It was supposed to be a warning of what was to come. I just didn’t know it would happen this fast and include so many people.
Silence is a crime.