TOAmerican athletes, politicians and even business have spoken out on recent Republican-led legislation in Georgia that appears to target black citizens by making it harder for them to vote. But for all the saber rattling, finger movement and stern letter writing, it was Major League Baseball that really took direct action on April 2 by moving its All-Star Game from Georgia to Colorado. stating, “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports the voting rights of all Americans and opposes restrictions on the polls.” Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Mike Lee, three of Donald Trump’s most notorious sock puppets, immediately sought to punish the league’s defense of democracy by proposing legislation to remove MLB antitrust exemption. It did not work. But his unspoken threat to all professional sports leagues wishing to join the fray was looming large.
After years of intimidating their athletes for their passive protests, most sports teams “woke up” after last summer’s massive Black Lives Matter marches of between 15 and 26 million people. the largest protests in US history. It was a glorious ascent from phoenix-style sports leagues to the heights of social morality. Today, we need that commitment more than ever, because if ever there was a case of black lives that doesn’t matter, it is the nearly 250 laws since the November elections that have been passed across the country designed to marginalize black voters. It is time for all sports leagues, which are supposed to embody the American ideals of teamwork, fair play and level playing fields, come together as one voice to represent their players, their fans and their Constitution to stop this. attempt to steal democracy.
In the past, sports leagues have failed to respond to social injustice, either by ignoring it or by tepidly supporting blanket reform sometime in the future. More recently, the NBA has led an aggressive and active response to combat inequalities. Other major sports leagues have also launched worthy campaigns. But the real power for change will occur only if everyone coordinates in an effort to condemn the restrictive laws in each state that passes them, and takes concrete steps to boycott those states, even if it means some financial sacrifice.
Economic pressure is an effective means of persuasion, not only from the millions of dollars lost to the All-Star Game, but also from other groups that are inspired to take action by not holding a convention or not building a corporate headquarters or even not vacationing . in Georgia. Ten days after the MLB announcement, Hollywood star Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua announced that they would be moving. his film Emancipation From Georgia to Louisiana explaining, “We cannot in conscience provide financial support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access.” A good conscience is exactly what we need.
The Georgians I admire and respect, like Stacey Abrams (our president one day, I hope), are understandably against a boycott, arguing that it will harm the people we are really trying to help: minorities who depend on sporting events. , the film industry, tourism, etc. for your income. While that is true, there is much greater harm to all blacks in Georgia and other states. Yes, some will lose some income, which is no small feat. But without this action, they, their families, their children, and blacks across the country will lose their political voice and power. Laws like this not only diminish their political influence, but they tell the rest of the country, and the world, that it is okay to treat black people as second-class citizens because it is legal. The more we wait, debate, and threaten, the more emboldened Republican legislatures in other states become to expand their campaign of racism.
Sadly, it is not just racism that they are promoting. They have declared war on many marginalized groups. Senators Cruz and Hawley, who threatened MLB over their move, revealed their true agenda when they recently joined four other Republicans in voting against a bill designed to stop hate crimes against Asian Americans. Step 92-6. Also the target of Republican legislatures is the LGBTQ + community. In 2019, states introduced 19 bills against transgender people. Just four months after 2021, 33 states have filed a record 117 anti-transgender bills. This year has also seen a record number of bills restricting women’s reproductive autonomy, with 516 new abortion restrictions.
Clearly, what happens in Georgia does not stay in Georgia. The Republican flu infects the rest of the states with an all-out frontal assault on everyone who is not a straight white male. If they don’t value you enough to give you full access to voting, why should they value it at a traffic stop (Daunte Wright), at a grocery store (George Floyd), in your own home (Breonna Taylor)? So yes, going after Georgia with all the power at our disposal should be our first priority. That should be followed by boycotting all states that lack virtue, signaling to join in with people of color who enslave greedy political masters who would subvert democracy.
In 1968, I boycotted the Olympics because I did not feel that I could represent a country that was actively suppressing the civil rights of blacks while beating, imprisoning and murdering those who spoke out against it. I was partly inspired by my participation in the Cleveland Summit the previous year during which I and several other famous athletes debated Muhammad Ali’s sincerity in boycotting conscientious objector recruitment. Ali’s decision cost him his heavyweight title, millions of dollars and threatened his imprisonment. Even when the government offered him a deal that would have restored him, he refused. Ali’s choice, and to a much lesser extent mine, won us nothing and cost us a lot. But by speaking, by taking direct action, we both focus the eyes of the nation on the disparity in our country and push the stone of civil rights a few feet up the mountain.
On April 10, more than 100 CEOs and corporate leaders from airlines, retailers, manufacturers and an NFL owner gathered online to discuss taking action against bills in Georgia and other states restricting voting. Among the remedies considered was the withholding of political donations to anyone. supporting these bills. No decisions were made. However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned them to “stay out of politics,” which I hope they remember when McConnell and his Republican acolytes have been asking for campaign contributions. It is the equivalent of telling athletes who express political opinions to “shut up and haggle.” These Republicans have made it clear that when it comes to politics, blacks must remain silent, business leaders must remain silent, and athletes must remain silent. Only they have the right to speak.
The thing about athletes is that they love challenges, they love to win, and they are not afraid to face any opponents. The time for discussion is over; The time for action is now. Seeing all the major sports leagues come together to fight oppression would be the best team since the Marvel Universe came together to take out Thanos, another. megalomaniac asshole that he thought his twisted will superseded everyone else’s. The Republican Party would like the marginalized to disappear with a snap of the fingers. Instead, we will make your hate bills disappear, your hate rhetoric disappear, and your hate careers disappear.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism