During the summer of 2020, it was common to hear from liberals seeking to guilt white people into supporting Black Lives Matter that “silence is violence” and “silence is complicity.”
Their belief was simple: The deaths of black men should matter to white people who have the privilege and resources to change America for the better. Corporate media and big business got the memo. So did the NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL. All made some reference to BLM on their courts, fields, or uniforms.
The Washington Nationals postponed a game with the Philadelphia Phillies on August 27, 2020, to “call attention to racial and social injustice” in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting. The team made no mention of the mass shooting a few weeks prior, when more than 20 black people were shot at a black party 12 minutes from the stadium.
This perverse dynamic is why the fatal shooting of coach Michael Hickmon in Lancaster, Texas, is not getting the type of attention you would expect from ESPN, Fox Sports, or the rest of corporate sports media.
According to reports, coach Hickmon was shot at a youth football game by Yaqub Talib, brother of retired NFL cornerback Aqib Talib, after a fight at the end of the game. Yaqub Talib turned himself in to police on August 15 after they issued a warrant for his arrest on murder charges. Witnesses allege Aqib Talib participated in the fight that precipitated the shooting.
Murder is the ultimate act of evil, regardless of the ethnic makeup of the victim or perpetrator. But if silence is violence, then the only group more violent toward black men than their peers are the black elites whose righteous indignation flares up like seasonal allergies when the loss of black life is a sign of ongoing racial strife.
It is unfair to demand that every black celebrity respond publicly to every homicide with a black victim. That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t ask why sports networks that covered the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict would completely ignore a fatal shooting at a youth football game that involved a former NFL player. I have not heard from Stephen A. Smith, Shannon Sharpe, or Snoop Dogg — who has been a very public supporter of youth football. The highest-profile ESPN personality who has addressed this incident is Kendrick Perkins, an NBA analyst.
The reason for this violent silence is simple. Black death is profitable to corporate media only if the person holding the gun is white. This incident would likely generate a lot more attention if a white player with a bad reputation had been involved.
When white men engage in acts of violence, their actions are attributed to their privilege, rage, and racism. When black men do the same, society is blamed for putting them in an environment that forced them into criminal behavior. Perhaps the people who have become so accustomed to blaming poverty for crime have a hard time understanding how the brother of a millionaire could end up shooting someone at a football game for kids.
Coach Hickmon’s son was on the field at the time of the shooting. Not only is this a traumatic incident for him personally, but it is also a terrible lesson for all of the boys in the game. Black boys are exposed to death way too often in this country, from the suburbs of Dallas to public housing units in Washington, D.C. They hear the gunshots at night, and many have lost friends to senseless acts of violence. They hear it in their music and see it in the videos they watch. They are saturated in death, and many turn to sports as a way to escape the harsh realities in their neighborhoods.
Activists want all the public attention on black victims when they are shot by white police officers, but not when the triggerman looks like his target. These same “racial justice” advocates turn into White Lives Matter spokesmen whenever people try to bring attention to the shootings that happen on a daily basis in black neighborhoods across the country.
The racial disparity in homicide victimization is so large that the rates for whites and blacks can’t be shown on the same graph. This is why homicide is both the leading cause of death for young black men and the second leading cause of black male incarceration. Too many young black men have been taught to sow in seconds and reap in years. Prison is what awaits a man who has low impulse control, a dangerous weapon, and a lack of respect for human life.
The kids on that field learned a series of bad lessons that day. They witnessed the death of their coach at the hands of a man with access to millions. They saw adults who couldn’t control their emotions turn a football field into a crime scene. They saw a former NFL player use his name and resources to escalate conflict instead of trying to calm things down on the field. This isn’t the type of example they need on their journey toward manhood. In the aftermath, they will also receive a sober reminder: Black lives do matter – but only when white people take them.