Another black man shot by police, this time, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Jacob Blake. Seven times in the back. The officer who shot him, Rusten Sheskey, grabbed him by the shirt, pointed a service revolver into Blake’s back, and fired seven times. Blake’s spinal cord was destroyed. He will never walk again.
Another senseless escalation of violence that turned into yet another black man shot. And when people protested this senseless act of violence, a man named Kyle Rittenhouse grabbed his AR-15, drove from Illinois to Wisconsin, infiltrated the protest, and shot three people, killing two and maiming a third.
Rittenhouse walked right through the crowd – he’s carrying a freakin’ AR-15 – and the cops don’t stop him. They let him go.
Not only do they let him go, they toss him some bottled water and say to him, “We appreciate you guys, we really do.”
Kyle Rittenhouse was later taken into custody. In Illinois. Days after those murders. The cop that shot Jacob Blake in the back SEVEN FUCKING TIMES is still free. And so are the cops who murdered Breonna Taylor – in her own home – in cold blood.
Meanwhile, in a sports facility in Florida, the Milwaukee Bucks were preparing for their playoff game against the Orlando Magic. And they’ve heard the words of Doc Rivers, the coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.
And in an instant … the Bucks refused to take the court. Some time later, the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics teams refused to play as well. The NBA cancelled all their games for that night. The WNBA players also refused to take the court, with one team showing up with T-shirts that spelled out the name “JACOB BLAKE” on the front, and seven black dots on the back of each shirt, to represent the seven bullets in the back.
And it’s not just basketball players that are walking away. In baseball, the Milwaukee Brewers also refused to take the field for their game against Cincinnati. That game was postponed, as were some other MLB games. In tennis, Naomi Osaka, one of the top tennis players in the world, withdrew from her upcoming tournament.
Their reasons are clear. Sports is unimportant when black men and black women and black children are murdered, either by cops or by radicalized Boogaloo Boys and Three Percenters and Proud Boys and Oathkeepers.
And don’t give me the alternate argument of “Of course black lives matter, ALL lives matter.” Because that’s a cop-out. Until black lives matter, then all lives DON’T matter. Because when the Constitution said “All men are created equal,” black men were still under the three-fifths compromise. And the argument that “Blue Lives Matter” is also a deflection. A cop can take off his “blue” uniform when he gets home. Enlighten me as to how a black man can take off his skin when he gets home. I’ll wait.
So then, what is the reason to even play sports right now? Is this the point where we are so conditioned and marginalized that we can just accept another black man getting shot SEVEN FUCKING TIMES in the back like it’s normal? Like we can accept some militia wannabe who goes into a crowd and hunts down and kills two people and maims a third with his AR-15, and gets rewarded with bottled water and escape?
Sports can wait. You can call the games postponed or delayed, you can call it a boycott if you want, but let’s call it what it truly is. The NBA players went on strike because they DON’T want to distract right now from the real issues right now – social injustice, systemic racism, prejudice, fear, bigotry, hatred and fearmongering of black men and women.
It’s time to step away from the bread and circuses and address the hatred going on right now in our country and in our world.
Jacob Blake deserved better than this.
So did Breonna Taylor. And so did George Floyd.
And so will the next black man or woman whose death we’ll hear about next week. Just like a broken clock.