Why LeBron James Must Not Shut Up

By Zirin, Dave | The Progressive, August-September 2018 | Go to article overview

Why LeBron James Must Not Shut Up


Zirin, Dave, The Progressive


LeBron James is taking his talents to Venice Beach. The greatest basketball player on earth has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers for four years at $154 million. Analyses of this free-agent signing, what it will mean for the Lakers, the champion Golden State Warriors, and the rest of the NBA, is all over the web, television, newspapers, and pretty much every media outlet short of skywriting.

But there is another aspect of this signing that could have far-reaching repercussions: what the move by LeBron to Los Angeles could mean for his critical social activism.

Over the last six years, LeBron has carved out a legacy for himself as someone unafraid to use his hyper-exalted, brought-to-you-by-Nike platform to speak out about racism and police violence. The billionaire athlete who grew up in public housing has never forgotten his roots as he's tried to live out his teenage dream to be "a global icon like Muhammad Ali."

It started for LeBron when he was with the Miami Heat. He organized his entire team, black and white players, to pose wearing hoodies, the international symbol of solidarity with the family of Trayvon Martin. Martin, a seventeen-year-old resident of Miami Gardens, Florida, was killed by a vigilante who used Martins hoodie as an excuse for his murder.

When LeBron went from Miami back to his hometown team of Cleveland, he remained vocal, speaking out publicly in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

At the ESPY Awards in 2016, LeBron said: "We all feel helpless and frustrated by the violence. We do. But that's not acceptable. It's time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what are we doing to create change. It's not about being a role model. It's not about our responsibility to the tradition of activism. I know tonight we're honoring Muhammad Ali. The GOAT. But to do his legacy any justice, let's use this moment as a call to action for all professional athletes to educate ourselves. It's for these issues."

Last year, when someone scrawled a racial slur on his house, LeBron took the extraordinary step of going public with what happened. …

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