Philadelphia 76er and former NBA All-Star Elton Brand reflects on Trayvon Martin:
“I’ve worn a hoodie walking taking a short cut through a nicer area (he laughs) knowing what I know good. It’s sad to see this happen. It could have been any of us. It could have definitely been me as a young teenager.”…
“That could be my son. It’s heart wrenching. I’m not into law or anything so I don’t know what’s going on with the Florida state rules. I’m just hearing from the streets the guy (George Zimmerman) is not in jail and hasn’t been arrested. That really makes this crazy because he took a life.”
In this interview, Michael Tillery asks Elton if “white reporters should ask white athletes of Trayvon Martin”. It’s an important question as it touches on the mainstream sports media double-standard where white reporters often hold no expectations from white athletes on matters of social justice — racial or otherwise.
Whether it is about the prospect of Rush Limbaugh buying a football team or Aaron Rodgers’ opinion on the Wisconsin strike, white stars rarely even get asked the question. The great privilege of being a white athlete is being apolitical and not suffering from it. To the question, Elton continues:
“This is an American story. I think white journalists should ask white and Black athletes alike to see what their opinions are because I know it’s different.
In some states guys are allowed to carry (licensed guns) openly. Stand your ground…whatever that law is…is crazy. I’ve never been around that growing up in New York, playing in Chicago…Philly and LA. I’ve never been in the south in different parts where those rules apply. So I think you should ask guys. I remember Chris Kaman…when I played with him…was a big gun advocate.
He had all types of guns. AR 15′s. He goes hunting. He has big guns. Twitter pics of guns. If I took a twitpic of a gun it would be a different story so I think we should show both sides. ”
Brand’s awareness of Kaman’s white privilege is particularly relevant just as smear campaign is being waged against Trayvon Martin . Thankfully there are no twitter pics of Trayvon like Kaman’s. As it stands, we are hearing how Martin at 17 liked to smoke marijuana and even had tattoos!
While neither are uncommon behaviors for 17 year olds, the suggestion that equal outrage should only be reserved for murdering perfect boy scout angels who go to church every Sunday is not only highly disturbing — but life-threatening. It might also helps to explain why the police killings of Ramarley Graham during the same month (or Oscar Grant) can’t seem to register on a national level. Their pasts just weren’t pristine enough and their photos just weren’t cute enough to get all worked up about it.
“Imagine if [Brand] or other NBA Black players created the [Chris Kaman] video above. How would that be perceived? … This isn’t about Chris but more about the perception. A perception that continues to be. A Gilbert Arenas perception that blankets the league. A Black man off the court perception. How do we change this? How do we show America that innocent Black men are not to be killed like it’s nothing? How many cases have we seen where white folks have gotten away with murder? In our community, we grew up seeing images of Emmett Till’s bloated body after he was senselessly killed in 1955. We see Oscar Grant’s murder on video. I was pissed we cared more about The Decision of LeBron James more than the Oscar Grant verdict the very same day. When will this stop?”
For article and Chris Kaman video check out The Starting Five.
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