Are Black Athletes obligated to lead Social Change???

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2009 at 10:59 am

Recently, football Hall of Famer Jim Brown again criticized Tiger Woods for not using his athletic platform as a catalyst for social change. According to an article in Golf Digest, Brown said of Tiger: “He is a killer, he will run over you…But as an individual for social change? Terrible. Terrible.” Brown accuses Tiger of bucking responsibility and hiding behind his foundation. My burning question: Do African American athletes have an obligation to be a mouthpiece for social change? Perhaps we can agree that the activism of Brown’s day is not what is called for, yet inequalities, both racial, gender and sex, age, and disability, remain. There are some areas where Woods could perhaps be more vocal, and yes, people would listen. But, as some sports columnists such as Rob Parker say, Tiger doesn’t want to ruin his sponsorship deals.

Tiger doesn’t identify himself as an African American, he considers himself a mixture of cultures and ethnicities. Not that I’m a Tiger spokesperson, but I get the sense that Tiger has always been insulated from being a spokesperson for anything with the exception of golf. So, when he came out this year to make a speech regarding then newly elected Barack Obama as President of the USA, that spoke volumes to how I believe Tiger has grown into an athlete who now uses his platform as he decides. As African Americans we look to athletes and celebrities to use their platform to engage a dialogue, to use that platform to invoke change. In reality, (speaking in generalities) the athletes of today have not endured what Brown endured in regards to a closed, separate society; the athletes of today have to be concerned with image, protection of their product, the athlete of today are entertainers, and on one hand, we want our athletes to perform and not speak. On the other hand, we want our athletes to speak on social issues that continue to plague the African American communities. As such, athletes form foundations, and now their foundations are the mouthpieces, these foundations are the platforms. I may not agree with today’s athletes and how they are too silent on specific issues, but because of the likes of Jim Brown, Jackie Robinson, Curt Flood and countless others who pushed for change and equality, today’s athletes have a choice to become activists or not.

To read Tiger’s comments and the entire Golf Digest article, click here:

  1. Great topic!!! A book that I recommend everyone to read is Forty Million Dollar Slaves by Bill Rhoden. He explains some of the things that you just mentioned Kesha and its worth reading!!! I commend you for a great job on your site!!! Keep up the good work!!!

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