On Wednesday, LeBron James chastised the media for not asking him about a picture of Jerry Jones that was taken as black teens were attempting to desegregate the Arkansas high school Jones attended in 1957. The black-and-white photo shows Jones observing the scene that unfolded a few rows behind the young men who are taking a more aggressive stand against the black students.
This was just the evidence James needed to repair the damage he did to his image by joining the chorus of black athletes and journalists who publicly denounced Kyrie Irving after the Brooklyn Nets guard shared a link to a documentary on Amazon called "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America."
James said he doesn’t condone hate in a statement that specifically listed Jewish, black, and Asian communities. He wasn’t alone. Shannon Sharpe, Jemele Hill, Jalen Rose, and several other media personalities made similar statements condemning “harmful” language.
They likely felt comfortable condemning Irving for sharing the link with no commentary because there was safety in numbers. What they didn’t anticipate was the backlash they would receive from black people who felt Irving was being treated unfairly by the NBA and saw them as foot soldiers in the witch hunt against him.
The same people who are quick to label black people with conservative political views “sellouts” felt the sting of being on the receiving end of those insults. There was no better way to regain some of the cultural capital they lost than finding a way to show they are down with the cause. And there isn’t a single person in professional sports who is a better foil for LeBron and the a la carte revolutionaries than an old, white, Southern man who opposed Colin Kaepernick’s protests and happens to own the most valuable sports franchise in the world.
James grilled media members on their silence and elicited a Pavlovian response from the keepers of “the culture.”
Jay Williams said he needed Jerry Jones to “denounce racism”; Kendrick Perkins wondered when Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Bill Belichick are going to be “held accountable” for not speaking on Jones and other issues related to race. Emmanuel Acho claimed there is a link between the Jones photo and the fact he has never hired a black coach.
These athletes and media personalities are swarming because Jerry Jones is the perfect man to help them bolster their social media reputations, but there is a bigger issue at play here that also involves the face of the NBA.
In 2018, LeBron James tweeted, “We been getting that Jewish Money, Everything is Kosher,” which was a line in a rap song by 21 Savage called “ASMR.”
LeBron was made aware some people considered those lyrics anti-Semitic and quickly apologized.
"Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone. That's not why I chose to share that lyric. I always [post lyrics]. That's what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the byproduct of it. So, I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn't through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies. It definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody."
Even 21 Savage himself apologized for the words he wrote and rapped, but neither man had any issue with the multiple references in the song to guns and street violence.
Young black men are victims of homicide at a rate more than eight times higher than their white peers, yet the NBA has no problem allowing 21 Savage to perform at games and the NFL was lauded for having Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg perform at halftime of the Super Bowl.
This hearkens back to a line in the infamous “Richard Snipp” letter that was published last year:
Make them think someone else's opinions of them are more important than how they see themselves. Condition them to see race-hate, regardless of how infrequent it is, as a much more urgent concern than self-hate, regardless of how common it is.
They are starting to murder each other at alarming rates. Good. That's part of the plan. We didn't expect it to start so soon, since they constantly talk about being black and proud. Don't believe it. Make them think cold stares from us are more harmful than hot lead from their own.
The Snipp letter explains why, generally speaking, today’s black athletes, entertainers, and journalists are not real leaders.
Speaking positively about the financial success of Jewish people should never be more controversial than bragging about killing black men, but somehow one of these things makes athletes weak-kneed and the other makes rappers wealthy.
Because to men like LeBron, 21 Savage, Jay Williams, and Shannon Sharpe, a white man’s words are always important, regardless of who he is addressing. In contrast, a black man’s words have limited value. They are critically important when they are directed to more “marginalized” and “oppressed” groups, but utterly worthless when directed to the people in his own community. This is why no amount of violence in hip-hop is considered hate speech, even when rap beefs that start in songs end in the streets.
The belief that the thoughts, words, and actions of white people are the primary barrier to black uplift is the most pernicious form of white supremacy afflicting the black community today. It makes men who claim to be kings sound like children desperate for validation and powerless to affect change in their own lives.
This is the reason ESPN will chase down every fake hate crime story and air glowing profiles of Bubba Wallace and Rachel Richardson, but go mute when a former NFL star allegedly instigates a fight that ends with his brother being charged for killing a youth football coach on the field after a game.
It is the reason ESPN personalities joined NBA players and coaches to lament the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, even though everyone involved in his self-defense case was white.
It is why the NBA promoted Black Lives Matter – an organization that listed the destruction of the nuclear family as one of its principles – and some players wore “Love Us” on the backs of their jerseys.
This is a problem that goes well beyond sports.
It is also the reason the NAACP can partner with white B-list actors to create an ad about “taking responsibility” for racism but stay completely silent as Baltimore, home to the organization’s headquarters, surpasses 300 homicides for the eighth consecutive year.
Black politicians, pundits, performers, preachers, and professors with the biggest platforms have grown accustomed to stepping over lifeless bodies in their own neighborhoods to address high-profile incidents in cities they have never visited as long as there is a race angle that can be exploited.
This is the opposite of leadership.
My wife and children would rightfully question my love for them if I dedicated attention and resources to another family across town. How could I credibly call myself the leader of my home if I never chart a vision of what we need to do as family to reach our goals?
The same principles apply to the Afristocracy.
Professional athletes should not be forced to answer for every social or political movement going on in the world, the conduct of ex-teammates, or the actions of people in other leagues. But if they do, they need to be clear about why they choose to focus on certain issues and not others.
And they need to be as vocal about the violence and destruction plaguing poor black communities today as they want octogenarian billionaires to be about things that happened 65 years ago. Black children, from toddlers to teenagers, are being killed every day in big cities across the country, but somehow the biggest personalities in sports and media who claim to represent “the culture” never use their platforms to address this reality.
Their silence demands an explanation.
People notice the outrage inequity and are beginning to wonder whether black athletes and journalists genuinely desire accountability for the past misdeeds of all people or affirmation from the one group they see as both the cause of their oppression and the source of their liberation.