Dallas Tragedy Illustrates Larger Issues

Dallas Tragedy Illustrates Larger Issues
Dwayne Wade was one of many athletes speaking out that they have to start speaking up to demand change after a week of high profiles shootings and five police officers were fatally ambushed in Dallas.

We are living in an age of hatred. The ambush that resulted in the death of five policemen in Dallas capped off an tragic week in the U.S.

From the presidential election to social media and virtually every shooting, hatred has seemed to become the prevailing emotion. The entire country is hurting. At what point does everyone stand up and say that the violence is enough.

Times of crisis put into perspective the role sports plays in society. Sports has often been ahead of society and other times mirrored it. Much like topics of far greater importance sports can bring together or divide communities. The shootings in Dallas has given the country a new perspective on mass shootings.

The disturbing events of this week have shined a continual light on racism and hatred that seems to have been brought more to the national attention over the last few years. Two senseless killings of young black males were then met with white police officers being specifically targeted in Dallas.

Athletes are interested in the world around them just like the rest of us. They are going to be criticized no matter what they do or don't do. Some of the athletes make their thoughts known while others stay silent.

Michael Jordan has often been criticized for keeping his opinions to himself. Jordan was once asked to support democratic North Carolina Senate candidate Harvey Gantt.  Gantt was running against the incumbent Jesse Helms. Jordan (in)famously proclaimed "republicans buy shoes too". Helms received over 90 percent of the vote in 1984. The election with Gannt was much closer, but Helms prevailed 52-47 percent.

The NBA's all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took Jordan to task for the quote. He said:

"You can't be afraid of losing shoe sales if you're worried about your civil and human rights," he said. "[Jordan] took commerce over conscience. It's unfortunate for him, but he's gotta live with it." In fairness to Jordan, there has never been an attirbution to where or whom the quote came from.

Derrick Rose was once regarded as the next great Bulls player. He became the youngest player in NBA history to win the MVP. He captured the award when he was 22 during the 2010-11 season.

Rose is generally quiet and extremely reserved. He caused controversy in December 2014 when he warmed up shirt in a game before the Bulls hosted the Golden State Warriors that said "I can't breathe" Those were the last words of Eric Garner.

Garner was one in a long line of highly publicized deaths at the hands of police officers. Garner's death was widely considered the one to be captured on video to go viral. Rose's statement came on the heels of another death at the hands of police. Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri.

LeBron James praised Rose for taking a stance: "It's spectacular. I loved it. I'm looking for one." When asked if he planned to wear the t-shirt before a game, James was coy, but hinted it could potentially happen. "It's possible. I'm looking for one. I think it was great."

The at the time St. Louis Rams made a statement almost two weeks before Rose did. Four Rams receivers and tight end Jared Cook stopped on their way of out of the tunnel to pay tribute to Brown.

Cook said "We kind of came collectively together and decided we wanted to do something," Cook said. "We haven't been able to go down to Ferguson to do anything because we have been busy. Secondly, it's kind of dangerous down there and none of us want to get caught up in anything.

These issues are a microcosm of much bigger problems in society that have gotten better but we still have a long way to go. In many ways, sports mirror these issues.We have become a society that gives anyone an infinite number of platforms to voice their opinion. Racism and intolerance of those different than ourselves are more common in our everyday lives because of social media.

Congressman John Lewis who walked with Dr. Martin Luther King said:

"I believe in nonviolence as a way of life, as a way of living.

We have come a long way in America because of Martin Luther King, Jr. He led a disciplined, nonviolent revolution under the rule of law, a revolution of values, a revolution of ideas. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a distance to go before all of our citizens embrace the idea of a truly interracial democracy, what I like to call the Beloved Community, a nation at peace with itself".

We have become a society that has forgotten how to debate or have civil discourse. Internet trolls are out there to push their own agendas. The more than mean video earlier this year showed that sexism is also alive and well.

The decision to post an opinion by an athlete or celebrity is a tricky one. The more than mean video clearly highlights that. The majority of the responses were related specifically to sports. Some were in response to comments to the discussion about Patrick Kane's case of being accused of rape. The responding comments threatened violence for condemning whatever might have happened.

Matt Spiegel and Jason Goff host the midday show on 670 the Score. In times of crisis, they acknowledge that the world is far bigger than sports. They took time out on Thursday and Friday to discuss the happenings of the week.

They were not the only sports personalities with ties to Chicago that discussed the atrocities in St. Paul, Baton Rouge and Dallas this week. Many current and former Chicago Athletes took to social media to voice their sorrow and concern with the state of the country.

These athletes come from diverse backgrounds. The one thing most share is being African American. Throughout the coverage, the last few days and a topic that Goff touched is what do you tell children?

Byron Pitts of ABC and other reporters spoke about the need of having "the talk" with African-American children when they get to an appropriate age. This is when African American men have conversations with their children about how to act around police officers when approached.

To paraphrase the US Bill of Rights, All Men might have been created equal but the country has never truly acted this way. Here are the thoughts from some of the Chicago athletes.

Here are the thoughts from some of the Chicago athletes. Matt Forte, like Lewis quoted Dr. King on Instagram.

 

Simeon alum Jabari Parker responded to former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh who said President Obama needs to watch his back.

Former Bulls point guard Jay Williams is one of the most thoughtful and articulate athletes. He is knowledgeable and educated far beyond sports. He comes from an amazing family.

His father David headed up American Express' MIS department and his mom was an assistant principal at a high school when the Bulls drafted him. He went to the White House when he was three years old. His paternal grandmother was honored as one of the first black women in the state of Florida to vote. They were also honored by President Reagan as "A Great American Family" here are a pair of his thoughts.

Parker tweeted about some of the hypocrisy of prostesters.

Native Chicago and new Bull Dwayne Wade spoke of his disgust with what's going on. He also spoke at length in an interview with the Associated Press about athletes responsibility to start standing up and using their celebrity to help influence change.

This needs to be a discussion that continues and is not forgotten. Maybe now that police officers have been included the rampant violence going on the country, the country at whole will take the seriousness of inner city violence, police brutality, and mass shootings more seriously. The Sandy Hook, Aurora, Lafayette, Tennessee, Oregon and Orlando (and more...) shootings were in the news and then we moved on once it faded from the news cycle.

Will it be in the news long enough to make a change? Let's hope Wade and his peers can make impacts with the decision makers.

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