Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Video footage from the police shooting of Jacob Blake Jr. in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday captures the latest installment of injustice and dehumanization towards black people. The horrific act has since sparked protests across US cities like Portland and Minneapolis.
Perhaps the most stunning response has come from NBA basketball players. Shortly after the shooting, there were rumblings from teams like the Toronto Raptors that they would refrain from participating in their scheduled playoff games. On Wednesday night the Milwaukee Bucks led the boycott and the league followed suit, cancelling all planned games for the evening.
While calls for further police reform are being heard loud and clear, the world's response remains divided (once again).
Just like following the death of George Floyd, the push for justice is not a unanimous one.
Those on the other side are quick to point out the discrimination that they also experience or the nature of violence that is more dominant in black culture than any other ethnicity.
I write this not to debate either of these points, I do think both have some degree of merit, but I write this, urging that we find some common ground.
As a Christian, I'm as disturbed as anyone that the roots of Black Lives Matter is anti-God, but does that mean that this movement has been damned from accomplishing good?
I don't think so.
Yes, it's possible that others who aren't black experience discrimination too. But, should that excuse us from the glaring cruelties black people are enduring at this very moment?
We know what the answer should be, yet we've retreated to polarize one another.
America is an already divided country, but these acts don't have to drive this wedge deeper.
Businesses and organizations are quick to show their political stripes. The NBA champions progress, and the NFL supports the republic. This doesn't mean that we have to see the world through such a binary lens.
Can we not at least applaud these NBA players for sacrificing income and protesting peacefully?
No, there's always a catch, isn't there. Just like with COVID, wearing a mask in public is seen more as an infringement of our freedoms than protecting others from this global virus.
Following 9/11, when heightened security checks were implemented at airports, and even more immediately afterwards when planes were grounded, there was far less public backlash.
You could argue that such hostility today is a direct result of President Trump's lackluster response to such issues. Neither the coronavirus nor black justice has he given the attention it deserves.
Or maybe you could argue that Bush rallied the free world around an external enemy with the collapse of the twin towers, and these issues of divisiveness are causing people to see their neighbours as internal enemies. Either way, there is an absence of love towards others.
Love is what unifies.
What if we looked beyond ourselves and found camaraderie, as foreign as that might seem. Plurality is beneficial in the public arena, differing ideas can help lead us to the best possible solution. However, at the end of the day, aren't we all fighting on the same team?
I've always appreciated how sports bring people together. What if we rallied around these basketball players at last. Thoughtfully, objectively, and compassionately.
We don't have to let fear divide. Hope can unite us. We just have to be willing to look beyond ourselves.