Since the passing of boxing icon Muhammad Ali, I’ve been thinking about black athletes a lot. Since blacks have been playing sports we have dominated pretty much sport every sport we enter. I had a recent discussion with a friend of mine. I asked him why we liked Ali so much. He said that Ali spoke up for black people at a very unpopular time in America. He also said that Ali stuck to his convictions even if others disagreed with him. This is something I hear over and over again. Of course has Ali got older the white media has whitewashed his image. They just say he was fighting for civil rights and refused to fight in the Vietnam war due to his religious beliefs. Ali got a lot of hate from white and black Christians because he was a Muslim. But there were those that did respect that he did have the right to practice whatever religion he chooses. But since his death the media doesn’t bring up his controversial views on black power,injustice,interracial marriage and inequality. They tend to gloss over all that. They do this because many whites feel detached from his era. They feel that Ali could complain about racism and inequality because of segregation. That’s why many whites say they admire Ali. But if you were to repeat some of the things Ali said…they would hate you. It’s because they believe racism is not a big problem anymore. Overt racism maybe gone to a degree. But racism is alive and well.
Back in the day black athletes at least had the guts to speak out when black people were mistreated. The photo(above) is from a press conference in 1967. NFL great Jim Brown held a conference in support of Ali refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. NBA stars like Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul Jabbar came out to support. This is why many black people respect these men for speaking out in a show of solidarity with Ali.
What makes an athlete great? An athlete must have speed,agility,and strength. Ali seemed to posses all of these qualities. After years of practice he had perfected the craft of boxing. Many times he could anticipate the move of his opponent.
Michael Jordan is considered the greatest basketball player of all time. Jordan had amazing hang time on the court. He was very quick and could get an easy dunk on pretty much anyone. He was a six time NBA Champion,rookie of the year and 14 time NBA All Star.
Then there is undefeated boxing champ Floyd Mayweather. He is a great technical fighter and great defender in the ring. The brother is a great fighter,you can’t take that away from him. He does come off brash and cocky and that’s one of the reasons people don’t like him. But he really love to show off his money and all the expensive cars he has. He seems to really love showing his opulence at any given moment. I know that Ali did a picture posing on a stacks of money as well. And I realize that many whites hate seeing rich and successful black people. I’m not ignorant of the fact. But at least Ali did balance his cocky attitude with speaking out on racial and political. Much like Ali,Mayweather knows many people don’t like it when he does this. He does alot of it on purpose to get under people’s skin. I’m all for black people being successful and making money. Lord knows it’s a struggle to make it in this racist society. But is Mayweather about anything deeper? I just wish the brother had a little more substance. Does he care about the plight of his people?
Then you have athletes like Kobe Byant who rarely speak out on race issues. A few years ago NFL great Jim Brown called him out on the Arsenio Hall show. Brown stated:
“He’s somewhat confused about our culture. Because he was brought up in another country…If I had to invite people to that [black athlete] summit all over,” Brown said, referring to a summit held in the early 70s regarding Muhammed Ali’s refusal to fight in the Vietnam War, “there’d be some athletes I wouldn’t call. He’d be one of them.”
I agree with Jim Brown. Of course Kobe didn’t like that too much so he made a statement
“It surprised me in the sense that it came out of left field. I’ve never even met him. It came out of left field. But I do think it’s a great opportunity to have this conversation, to have this discussion. No matter where you come from, whether you come from Italy, whether you come from Inglewood (a Los Angeles neighborhood), whether you come from London, it doesn’t matter. Ultimately the conversation is that it doesn’t matter what color skin you are to begin with. But I think it’s a good place to start and have a good conversation.”
“There’s nothing to talk about. We have different perceptions and different views on that, clearly. The thing I’ve tried to do is I’ve tried to educate our youth going forward, no matter what color skin you are, African-American or white or whatever the case may be. Just try to talk about having a bright future going forward and how to help the kids and progress as a society as a whole. He and I, there’s no reason for us to try to have a conversation. We’re on opposite sides of the spectrum. I’m an old dog, but he’s a much older dog and a lot more set in his ways than I am.”
Can you believe this guy? Kobe is living in a fantasy world. This guy thinks the world is colorblind and racism is not a big issue anymore. Maybe he thinks this way because he makes millions of dollars,has a Mexican wife and mixed race children. But he needs to come back to reality. Have you ever heard Kobe speak about the killing of Trayvon Martin? Has Mayweather spoke about the death of Sandra Bland? Have you heard Michael Jordan speak about the killing of Tamir Rice or Ayiana Jones?? Nope! Nothing bit silence. After Ali’s death Jordan released a statement:
“Muhammad Ali was bigger than sports and larger than life. He said he was ‘The Greatest’ and he was right. He was the greatest of his era in the ring and a global icon in sports. I was a kid during his prime, but I remember some of his epic fights and his incredible style. My sincerest condolences go out to his wife, Lonnie, his kids and family.”
You noticed he didn’t say Ali was an inspiration or an example to follow. It’s because they don’t want to follow his example. They don’t have the guts and self respect to speak out on behalf of their people. Most of them are just happy to get a paycheck and be athletic coons.
Although I will give some props to Chicago Bulls player Derrick Rose. After the racist NYPD choked Eric Garner to death he wore a ” I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt. After he did it many other NBA players did it.
And after the Trayvon Martin not guilty verdict NBA star Lebron James got the Miami heat team to wear hoodies in protest. At least Lebron tried to speak out in some fashion. What did Kobe Bryant say? This fool actually challenged Lebrons stance. This is what he said:
Kobe is a bootlicking sellout for that comment! Could you imagine Ali making a statement like that? Never! This is why Ali is greater than Kobe,Jordan and Mayweather. You have to do more than just put on a hoodie or t-shirt. You have to be willing to sacrifice yourself for the greater cause. Most athletes today have no backbone and are scared of making their white masters angry. If you want to be an inspiration to your people you must do more than just be a gifted athlete.
Check out the video above. Listen to what Ali tells the two white women. He tells them the truth and they don’t like it! Could you imagine a black athlete saying those things today? I can’t think of too many that would. Some say Ali was just a product of the time. Maybe so,but we needed someone on his level that had the courage to speak TRUTH to power. And we still need people like that today. Our people are still catching HELL in 2016. Don’t let the media fool you by their whitewashing of Ali’s image. Ali loved his people and that’s what he will be remembered for the most. I wish more black singers,athletes,actors and rappers would speak out on our oppression. That’s what makes someone great in the eyes of their people. What’s greatness?
Be the greatest at standing for righteousness.
Be the greatest at giving hope to the helpless.
Be the greatest at having courage and dignity.
Be the greatest at having self respect.
Be the greatest at loving your African heritage.
Be the greatest at speaking for those that can’t speak for themselves.
Be the greatest inspiration for your people.
Be the greatest at having compassion but a warrior when the time is needed.
Be great at protecting your family and community.
Be great at protecting the innocent.
Be great at having self confidence.
Be great at having self discipline.
Be a great champion for justice and liberation.
Be great at speaking truth to power.
Being a great athlete means you have certain God-given abilities. Along with hard work and dedication you can become great at your craft. Being able to throw a punch,dunk a basketball,run very fast and jump very high….is very impressive. But to be truly great takes a little more than that in my opinion. And this is why black people will always love and respect Ali.
Rest in Power Ali.