All you had to do was throw the ball, boy. We concealed this auction block well, didn’t we, boy? You didn’t know you were on sale, boy? Didn’t we tell you to just run, boy? Entertain us, boy. Win championships for us, boy. Stay in your place, boy. Don’t you dare get these other
slaves, Black men riled up, boy. Didn’t we pay you enough, boy? Why can’t you just be satisfied, boy? Stand up and salute this flag, boy. Honor your allegiance to the system, boy. Didn’t we give you enough money to entice you, boy? How dare you reject your master, boy. Didn’t you like your name in lights, boy? Didn’t we stroke your ego, boy? All you needed to do was play the game, boy. Keep dancing for us on Monday Night, boy. Make us rich, boy. We don’t care if you get hurt, boy. Our job is to break bucks like you, boy. Didn’t you know boys like you come a dime a dozen, boy? We can replace you with no thought, boy. Make sure our new boy is a controlled boy. Thought you knew we don’t trust Negroes to be the quarterback anyways, boy. We did you a favor, boy. How dare you turn your back on us, boy. If you are kneeling, it will be before us, boy. Ain’t this game your God, boy? Don’t you see how everyone else bows down before us, boy? Don’t you know what we do to Negroes like you, boy? Back in the day, we let Negroes like you sway from the trees, boy. Make an example outta you, so other Negroes will stay in their place, boy. Don’t you smell that strange fruit in the air, boy? All you had to do was just shut up, boy. We don’t have to kill you, boy. All we have to do is silence you, boy.
The NFL is comprised of 70% African American males. Black Men have the power to dismantle an industry.
There is a story I once heard, could be fact, fiction or part fact and part fiction, however the sentiment of the story is something I will never forget. One day a man was walking through the circus passing the elephants, and he wondered how such a powerful, gigantic creature could be held in place with just a rope and a stake in the ground. The elephant’s freedom was just on the other side of believing that it could break the rope. When the man saw the trainer he asked him, “Why doesn’t the elephant just break the rope and leave this place of bondage and return to his home where he will find sustenance and freedom in his original habitat where he will thrive?”
The trainer smiled and said, “When the elephant is very young and small, we tie a rope to his leg, and it’s enough to hold the elephant in place. No matter how the elephant might struggle, he cannot break loose. As the elephant grows older, he has been conditioned over time to believe that he cannot break the rope so, in turn, the elephant never tries to get free.”
Freedom is often connected to the ability to recognize that there is no rope that can hold you. Once you decide to walk in your power and authority you can no longer be bound. Restricted freedom is still bondage and it costs. You may not pay now, but the bill always comes due and the oppressor will always want to collect payment.
One voice can be a spark. United voices can ignite a movement. One voice can bring awareness to a system. A multitude of voices can dismantle it.
My brothers in the NFL, you are no longer enslaved. You have all the power. You hold all the cards. You have the power collectively to stand for someone that knelt for our brothers and sisters that were murdered with no regard. As Assata said, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
You have nothing to lose but your chains…
Featured Photo: Gerry Melendez for ESPN