Taking on racism directly is hard, but necessary, for players and the rest of us. Why? White supremacy lingers over our lives because previous generations have failed to end it.
Instead of protesting, why don’t players do something to help black people improve their lives?
I’ve gotten many questions similar to that in response to columns about protests by athletes who are trying to bring attention to racism and spur action to make the country more fair.
The answer is that they do help in other ways. Most of the players have foundations that support good works in their communities and nationwide. Many of them volunteer their time to help young people of all races.
Among Seahawks, Earl Thomas has a foundation that helps families in need, Kam Chancellor gives to organizations that help people in underprivileged communities, Michael Bennett fights obesity and Cliff Avril gives to low-income families of children who have diabetes. And the list goes on.
That’s one kind of help, and it can give someone a boost to overcome obstacles, but what the players are doing now is aimed at eroding the obstacles themselves. It’s a more direct way of bringing to people’s attention what lies at the heart of many other problems, the disease that causes so many devastating symptoms.
That’s racism, specifically white supremacy, which lingers over our lives because previous generations have failed to end it. Courageous people have fought and died and successfully removed the most obvious manifestations of racism (slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, etc.), but we are left now with the structures and attitudes white supremacy created. And they are harder to kill, partly because they are harder to see.
The evidence of their existence is everywhere, though. We see it in the huge gaps between white and black income and wealth. It leaves footprints in the form of a black-unemployment rate that is twice the white rate, no…