For some reason, I distinctly remember a conversation revolving around racial matters in the wake of the L.A. riots that occurred in the wake of the Rodney King verdict. I was a mere undergraduate at THE Ohio State University when a white colleague related the following; “What you fail to understand is that white people will never go to the streets and tear stuff up. We’re too slick for that. We will take a more indirect, yet more effective, approach to responding to lawlessness. We will elect political officials who will punish the Black community by withdrawing money from social service initiatives and create laws that severely punish rioters.” Put simply, the white response to Black protest is unemotional, measured, and inescapable.
This conversation came to the forefront of my mind after learning that Missouri State Representatives Rick Brattin (R) and Kurt Bahr (R) recently proposed House Bill 1743 bill that “provides that any college athlete on scholarship who refuses to play for a reason unrelated to health shall have his or her scholarship revoked…any college athlete who calls, incites, supports, or participates in any strike or concerted refusal to play a scheduled game….any member of a coaching staff who encourages or enables a college athlete to engage” in a strike will also be subjected to a fine from the university.
If there were any doubt that this legislation was aimed at addressing the recent protests involving University of Missouri football players, Bahr, one of the creators of HB 1743, removed all doubt when he remarked that “obviously (the Bill was created) in reaction to the athletes who were saying they weren’t going to play to what they considered to be social issues on campus. I don’t think that is an appropriate response on their part.”
Although there are serious concerns regarding if this Bill will ever become Law, one must not overlook the message that this ‘shot across the bow’ sends to the African-American student-athletes within the state. If they are not careful, the University of Missouri could very well find itself mired in a public relations nightmare that could have extended repercussions for every educational institution within the state’s boundaries that makes money off of the sweaty backs of African-American student-athletes.
Most troubling to me is the reality that the African-American community has not responded to the proposed Bill in any discernible way. Unfortunately for the ten’s of thousands of Missouri student-athletes that such a Bill would affect from this point forward, this cause appears to be rather mundane, meaning devoid of the emotion that naturally arise when a single African-American is murdered or brutalized by a white law enforcement officer.
Although it is most certainly unfashionable to say in an era where in-your-face attacks appear to be the weapon of choice for the Black community, it is these battles over things such as HB 1743 that occur on a daily basis in State Legislatures throughout this nation that stand to retard African-American progress in a fashion that not even the most demonic law enforcement officer could. Yet, we behave as if we are totally unaware of such matters.
Unfortunately, it is these matters that matter much more than the sensational media reports of yet another Black man/woman falling at the hand of a white law enforcement officer. Until we learn this lesson of what battles really matter, we will continue to be outwitted and outclassed by our cunning and more organized adversaries.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015.