Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Since the infamous “taking my talents to South Beach” debacle almost two years ago, LeBron James has been accused of being many things: selfish, cowardly, and, perhaps most indictingly for a superstar, without possession of the clutch gene.

But on this past Friday’s episode of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, co-host Michael Wilbon had some other words to describe one of the most hated players in the NBA. Words like “bold” and “thoughtful.” In the segment, Wilbon praised LeBron for tweeting a picture of he and his Miami Heat teammates wearing hoodies in solidarity with the movement to bring justice to Trayvon Martin’s family (read about Martin’s story here). We’re in a sports era where athletes are pressured to mute their personalities and to have vapid yet pleasant canned interactions with the media in order to decrease the possibility of them alienating fans, members of their organization, and the all-important advertisers. So, despite my personal dislike for Lebron, I, too, applaud him for taking a potentially divisive stand on an issue in which he had nothing to gain.

Photo courtesy of LeBron James' Twitter

LeBron isn’t the first athlete in recent memory to take to Twitter to advance a social agenda. Earlier this month, Steve Nash was one of several athletes, all of whom have hundreds of thousands of followers, who helped make the Kony 2012 video go viral. Others tweet about organizations that they care about and even retweet fans hoping to gain awareness for their causes.

As someone who studied journalism in college and is an east coast liberal-in-training, I can’t help getting excited when I see people emotionally affected when they hear about injustices. And yet I can’t fully suppress the cynical side of me that thinks, “So what?” Posting what essentially amounts to a well-meaning wish on the internet isn’t going to change lives. As the columnist and political commentator Charles Krauthammer said of the “Twitter Revolution” in Iran: "There was a lot of romantic outpouring here thinking that Facebook is going to stop the Revolutionary Guards. It doesn't. Thuggery, a determined regime that is oppressive, that will shoot, almost always wins."

What’s also frustrating to me is knowing that while the knee-jerk reaction to situations like Martin’s is strong, in just a few weeks time, hardly anyone will be saying his name. In fact, we as a society are often eager to scrutinize and tear down what we so enthusiastically built up. It took all of two days for there to be immense backlash against the makers of the Kony 2012 video. The sad reality is that even though what is happening in these two cases is tragic, they are far from isolated instances in a world plagued with systemic inequalities. And when we are constantly confronted with stories like these, it’s hard to stay emotionally and intellectually engaged.

At church on Sunday, my pastor quoted a theologian who once said, “When there is numbness, there can be no newness.” What he was saying is that it’s not okay to look at injustices, shrug, and be satisfied with the explanation that “it is what it is.” Change can never come about if we allow ourselves to be desensitized and accept what should be unacceptable.

I’m thankful that there is evidence that we are not at that point yet. People have heard and read about Martin's story, perhaps even on Twitter, and in the past 3 weeks, more than 2 million have petitioned for the state to prosecute his killer. Last week, tweets bearing #IamTrayvon and #JusticeforTrayvon trended across the country. Responses haven't been strictly digital either. People all around America have organized protests and rallies to show support and demand justice.

LeBron and other tweeting advocates are doing a commendable thing by helping to bring cases like Martin's to light. It’s my hope that their 140 character tweets, while fruitless in and of themselves, continue to have the capacity to inspire action.


How do you guys feel about the police report that just came out stating that Trayvon initiated the confrontation? Real? Hoax? Does it change your sentiments?

My sentiments are the same regardless. Please correct me if I'm wrong or ignorant of how the law works, but in the case of a shooting death, shouldn't the shooter at least be detained under suspicion of murder? Or is that not the case?

I have no idea how innocent Trayvon Martin truly is in this matter, but I just think justice should be served in that the police do their jobs to the best of their ability. If they performed their due diligence correctly, then I apologize, but from the outside, it just doesn't seem like it.

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