“What’s the price for a black man life? I check the toe tag, not one zero in sight. I turn the TV on, not one hero in sight unless he dribble or he fiddle with mics.”
Well, J.Cole, today’s most clear example of a hero doesn’t fiddle with mics, outside of some instances of pre-game and post-game interviews. And instead of dribbling he mostly throws, but nothing’s got him more attention than kneeling.
Cole, one of the top rappers in the music industry today, is well aware of the bloodshed perpetrated by men and women in blue onto unarmed black people. The protest of injustice relevant within this country has long been dealt with in unconditional ways, ways that break away from what people are comfortable with or what they never bothered to think of beyond their own experiences. Rappers still have a space where they can provoke such thinking, and today so do athletes and that’s all because of Colin Kaepernick.
Among the many lost lives ended by gunpoint by the people selected to protect our communities — Mike Brown, Laquan McDonald, Freddie Gray, and most recently Terence Crutcher and Keith Scott — these tragic figures motivate the writing of songs like “January 28th” and actions like Kaepernick’s continued kneeling during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner prior to NFL games.
According to a survey done by Mapping Police Violence, police departments of the 100 largest U.S. cities committed 28 percent of U.S. police killings between January 2013 and June 2016.
Black people were 39% of people killed by these 100 police departments despite being only 21% of the population in these jurisdictions.
Of the unarmed people killed by the 100 largest city police departments, 51% were black. These police departments killed unarmed black people at a rate four times higher than unarmed white people.
And lets not forget about the police officers that weren’t justified for these wrongful actions.
To me, this isn’t justice. This is the injustice Kaepernick and many athletes across the sports world are protesting about.
Kaepernick is using his platform as a professional athlete to help represent the plethora of voices from average, every day citizens that speak out against social injustice, be heard. Kaepernick is supporting the black and brown men that are being wiped off the face of the earth DAILY by police brutality, the youth who find their primary goal in life is just to survive and the widows that had their most beloved treasures taking away from them by government officials.
As a former college athlete and Vice President of Roosevelt University’s Black Student Union organization, I understand the vitality and importance of using your platform to help shape your identity and insist on your rights to exist as your identity establishes you to.
In this case, Kaepernick’s platform identifies humanity and fairness, his actions created cognitive awareness within the NFL, and many current and former athletes have jumped on board. This movement will only spread across the different professional sports once their seasons begin.
If there is a time for a call to action, the time is now, and Kaepernick is calling for us to believe in his movement, he is willingly putting his life and professional career on the line, which is something I’m sure Cole approves. All who express themselves with regularity and purpose should do the same within our own platforms. We know not all cops are violent or promote such violent actions, but it doesn’t stop the fact that this violent injustice is an on-going dilemma between white authorities and black men.
My message to you Kaepernick is very simple: take your knee, protest and keep the faith.
Joshua M. Hicks is a sports writer and broadcaster and a recent graduate of Roosevelt University, follow him on Twitter @jhicks042