Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Reggie White's Social Conscience Was Sidetracked by Sterotypes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Reggie White's Social Conscience Was Sidetracked by Sterotypes

Article excerpt

For a minute there, Reggie White was on to something.

That minute came back in November, when the Green Bay Packers

defensive back bit one of the fingers that fed him. It was a

righteous nip though; he said that Nike, the sports apparel

giant that was giving him $200,000 to $250,000 a year to hawk

its shoes, should start making those shoes right here in the U.

S. of A instead of in Asian factories, where they pay workers

$1.84 an hour.

It did my heart good.

Finally. Here's another athlete following in the footsteps of

the late Arthur Ashe with a social conscience. An athlete who

wasn't whining about an injustice because it happened to him,

but because it was happening to millions.

What a selfless thing, I thought. Advocating for jobs that

black youths can have a shot at, even though many of them live

in inner city neighborhoods where many people are not working in

a typical week. Here was White, fielding the dreams of youths

who would scrape up their last dime to buy a pair of Nikes in a

subliminal thrust to channel his strength, his fame and his

wealth.

Maybe somebody was finally getting it, I thought. At least one

millionaire athlete was realizing that no matter how many youth

foundations he starts, no matter how many charity appearances he

makes, jobs are the ticket to helping poor youths and their

parents plan their futures. By voicing that fact, White could

influence some change. Make others realize that charity and

justice are two different things.

I wonder if the Nike folks finally got to him. It's hard for me

to believe it was God.

In a speech to the Wisconsin legislature last month, White

didn't talk about Nike. What he talked about was every ethnic

group there was. Blacks, he said, were blessed with the gift of

worship. Indians were good at sneaking up on people. Asians

could turn a television into a watch and Hispanics were happy to

put 20 to 30 people in one home. …

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