There is a saying in the church and it goes, “If you see me drowning don’t pray for me, pull me out the water please.” Now you may not think that this is what a person in good conscious would do but there is a lot of this very thing going on in the sports world. It’s now becoming a loud whisper because of the potential actions from the new generation of sports stars. It include this year’s NBA draft class who are vowing to do what the current and past classes sparingly did which is put a combined effort into uplifting their communities. While the reader may say “talk is cheap”, at the least we now have a young generation that recognizes the number of critical issues facing the black community and are willing to put action to the cause instead of wasting time being a “baller and shot caller.” I consider it refreshing. Someone has put the word into these young men’s and women’s ears and has let them know they have a rare window of opportunity. Don’t do as many of the past pro athlete classes have done and squander it.
Wise words from people who seem to be fed up with the flashiness and bragging while whole communities are in need of bread, clean water, and a wake up call. A couple of libraries wouldn’t hurt either because whether you’ve noticed or not history keeps repeating itself in a certain demographic. A lot of the reasons for this constant demise can be found in most books that are at our local library. But let’s not digress into pointless rabble-rousing. The facts are pretty clear. There are a lot of past and current professional athletes who watched and are still watching their communities suffer whether it is from dirty drinking water or violent crimes against each other. And while there is a lot of shoulder shrugging and issue deflection taking place, we do see a sort of conscious uprising from a younger generation that prefers to see a thriving culture rather than one that has to watch them show off their bling in front of the camera.
Maybe the younger generation of sports stars can no longer look at the hesitant actions of their predecessors after seeing what took and is still taking place in Flint, Michigan. The water crisis there was nationwide news and while lots of bottled water and short term water filters were sent to help the residents, there was an absence of a final resolution. Now any person with a first grade education would know that a new city-wide filtration system is expensive, but not more expensive than what a group of ball players could help purchase. Unfortunately, there will be the antagonists of actual humanitarian deeds come along and say things like, “it’s their money and they can do what they want with it” or “if you sports writers are so concerned why don’t you do something about it.” At best these statements are as worthless as the water in Flint. At worst the people who would say such things still believe in the plight of the sucka mc. There are plenty of athletes that were born and raised near Flint, Michigan and some have assisted with the basic items previously mentioned. For the most part though band aids have been used to stop a community that is hemorrhaging. This is only one issue, but it is far too obvious not to point out. Another elephant that has stepped into the room with his arms aloof wondering if it will be evaded like those previous.
What can be done to get this plague of “self glossing first, uplift community later” habit to stop? Nothing. The wound is too deep. It would be better to start with a fresh generation and teach them the correct way to uplift their neighborhoods so that the generation of young people after them will repeat positive change. In no part are we ignoring the great things that have been done by athletes such as Marshawn Lynch, who builds community centers back in Los Angeles, or Lebron James, who sends countless amounts of teens to college with part of his salary. The issue is that in such a state of disarray these are pebbles in an ocean of problems that have been formed over decades. One shining fact that could cause a domino effect is that one of the nation’s top young athletes is from the city of Flint, Michigan. Miles Bridges decided to opt out of this year’s NBA draft even though he was a sure lottery pick. The draft of 2018 could see him at the number one spot, but it is his view of what is taking place back in his hometown that is moving him and many of his friends, who were actually drafted this year, to action. Usually athletes in one sport such as basketball make friends with those in other sports so this conscious move to help a suffering people could be an epic one. In other words there will be a massive attack on problems such as the lack of education and abundance of crime in urban communities. And this will be done by a collective group who will have the resources and stage to make a significant difference.
Although community issues such as poverty and crime go beyond the black community, the emphasis of this article is on the availability but lack of help in fixing the problem. It is not a plea for those in these communities and neighborhoods to stand on a corner with a sign while crying about the problem. Nor is it an appeal to blame everyone else for the problems in urban communities. It is just a note saying that another fruitless march for change will be ineffective and leave these areas in the same predicament for yet another generation. There are enough people who want to reverse the oppression whether self-made or calculated. Maybe a group cry out to wealthy entertainers such as professional athletes is exactly the thing needed. Help should undoubtedly be contingent upon the individuals first helping themselves and second maintaining the better state that they are put in. This would give those helping more of a reason to use their resources in help bringing about change. At the end of this plot is a young generation watching to see if any progress will made. They just hope that more action is the next move of a drowning people. Spare a proactive generation the actions of this current group whose resolution to everything has become marching, praying, hoping, and waiting for things to get better. Love it or hate it but in the end…it is what it is.