Joshua Hicks is a contributor to WARR and The D & Davis Show
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal….that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke these words from the “I Have A Dream” speech during the March on Washington.
It is true that King’s speech inspired a lot of positive, effective change within the law of the land, but the question remains all these years later: Are we all truly equal in the public eye?
If it were possible to ask the legendary civil rights activist this question in light of the latest public indecency infringed upon Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett by the Las Vegas Police Department, I’m positive he would say absolutely not.
Bennett has become the latest, and among the most high profile, victim of police brutality after video of police handcuffing Bennett while pointing a gun to his head stating “If you move I will (explicit) kill you,” went viral this week, the video surfaced moments after this revealing twitter entry made by the all-pro on Wednesday.
Las Vegas police denied the allegations that Bennett accused of them and actually reached out to the NFL to investigate Bennett’s behavior toward the police. NFL denied the request, showing what could be said as surprising support to Bennett and his actions in handling the situation.
It is fortunate that the NFL has supported Bennett to the extent of not burying him in the court of public opinion, but where was this reasonable level of support while Colin Kaepernick’s protests received the backlash that ultimately made him a candidate for blackballing from the league’s individual members? Where is the show of allegiance with an established NFL talent in the face of thousands calling for a blackout of the NFL due to established unfair treatment of that talent?
The narrative provided by the Vegas situation is a bitter reminder of a detail that we cannot and must not overlook: the consistent negative portrayal of black men in our society, especially within the context of the political sectors of America.
Police brutality and the institutionalization of racism and discrimination is as well established an issue as there is in America. Slavery, Jim Crow and mass incarceration are just only a few of the things that have been purposely implemented overtime to degrade and obliterate the life of the African-American male, the male that is supposedly dangerous and a threat to society.
Bennett’s situation does not only exemplify discrimination, but also institutional racial profiling, his unfortunate run-in with Vegas police was just another prime example of the everyday discrimination black youth and adults of certain profiles across the country experience.
Kevin McMahill, the Undersheriff of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, decided to make it known to the public that the officers that handled Bennett’s handcuffing were Hispanic in an attempt to steer the direct accusation that traditional white racism is to blame for this excessive force of protocol.
The color of law enforcement individuals in no way justifies the sort of behavior that was witnessed being wielded to Bennett. If that was the case, why were the black cops partly responsible for the abusive death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore arrested along with the others?
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and JUSTICE FOR ALL.”
We say this pledge everyday, but do we really mean it?
Kaepernick and Bennett are only two of many athletes shedding light on these social justice issues within the NFL, taking the challenge to fight against stereotypical traditions in changing the narrative.
It is about time other primetime players and staff, especially within the white community and elsewhere, put their money where their mouths are and stand up for justice, justice for all. It is time for the NFL, for once — not ironically, cynically or cravenly — to have their athlete’s backs.
Joshua Hicks is a Chicago-based sports writer and broadcaster, follow him on Twitter @jhicks042; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio