“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is – its tough.” LeBron James. These are comments made by one of the most elite athletes in the world. He has fears and lives with them on a daily basis.
There have been loads of stereotyping experiences felt all through America not only by the African Americans but also by all minority groups in the U.S. Racism is alive and well. Beneath their success and influence in their different sport ventures lies the fear of racism. Racism has been a factor undermining minority groups in America up to the present day. The athlete today is compared to a superhero to the masses. With his/her impressive performances on the field, he is glorified and shed on light for his/her merits and demerits. Being an athlete calls for sacrifice, unlimited hours of perfection of their craft day in day out.
It’s a lifetime dedication that comes from passion. This is true for all athletes in the world. In America however, the black athlete has his/her hidden fears that live inside each and every day. Racism is prevalent in their situation in the field and even sometimes in the organization that they are part of. Adam Jones, the Baltimore Orioles center fielder is one of the recent examples of experiencing racism. He recalls being called the n-word a couple of times by the Boston Red Sox fans while also throwing at him a bag of peanuts. He spoke out about this the experience he had at Boston in a very sad way. He could not comprehend how the behavior of those who slurred names at him was so full of hatred and anger at him because of his skin color.
This has not been a new case scenario. For over 60 years most of the major league athletes have had something to say about the experience. In his memoir in 1979, Bill Russell, an NBA champion who won 11 championships for the Boston Celtics called Boston ‘a flea market of racism’.
Even he, with all that he had contributed to the city experienced racism in his career. A similar scenario happened to LeBron James, a three-time NBA champion, where an unidentified person spray-painted the n-word on his gate in his Brentwood resident. He was currently not in his home but he commented a very heartfelt message about the action. He talked about how it reminded him of the mother of Emmett Till, a black American who was lynched in 1995 at the age of 14.
The mother insisted that his casket be left open in his funeral so that the world would see how brutally they had murdered his son. “We got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African Americans until we feel equal in America.” Said James. Investigations were done through the surveillance cameras to identify the person who spray-painted his gate. Serena Williams is a symbol of Black female Excellency in more ways than one.
She is a highly decorated world tennis player with a tremendous record and ability to overcome obstacles of all sorts. After giving birth to Alexis on September, she notices alarming sensations in her body. Serena has been an athlete almost all her life meaning that she is quite familiar with her body; taking time to listen to what it requires and needs. This being the case, she requested for blood thinners from her doctors but they ignored her putting her in life threatening condition. She also popped open the C-section stitches from intense coughing and developed a hematoma in her abdomen. She would later then spend six weeks of her daughter’s life without being able to get out of bed. Statistics show that the likelihood of black women dying after pregnancy to white women is three out of four.
These are brought about by access to health care, insurance cover, and education. The underlying reason however, one that is usually left out is the difference in treatment and care offered to white patients over black patients. The Negro League Baseball was born out of necessity in the late 1880s. This was mainly because the black American was not allowed to join the national league dominated by white supremacy. These bans that excluded those of color from participating were very prevalent in the 1890s. This made the blacks work together to form their own organization, which, over time, became one of the most successful organizations run by African Americans.
Their growth was a symbol of their dedication and determination to rise above racism and social injustices that they were going through during the time. Jackie Robinson was the first to break the color barrier by joining in the Dodger’s organization. This opened gates for players like Joe Black, Don Newcombe, and Roy Campanella. By the year 1952, over 150 players were in Major League Baseball. Not so long ago, a couple of NFL player teamed up in solidarity and in defiance. This was in the support of the Black Lives Matter Movement that addressed the unnecessary killing of African Americans by armed police. The stand saw aggressive responses from the then president aspirant Trump calling them names and talking about how they should find another country that fits them. It is quite clear that athletes who are black are not yet treated equal as the rest, especially in America.
To them, wealth does not equate freedom. This is the beneath perspective of what the black athlete goes through in his/her personal life. Beyond all the wildest success and fame, lies beneath an insecurity that follows them every day.