By Eric Chae
"Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."- Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick, an NFL quarterback, said these words after being blacklisted from the NFL. He famously knelt down during the National Anthem, to protest the deaths of innocent black Americans at the hands of the police. His message was that he ultimately gave up his 7-figure job to support a cause he considered right.
His argument quickly falls apart once you realize that Kaepernick was sponsored by Nike, who presumably compensated him handsomely. The very same Nike that pays its sweatshops workers a mere 1.25 dollars a day. The same Nike that employs suppliers that uses slaves. The same Nike that physically and mentally abuses its workers. Whether Kaepernick knows about these human rights violations is unknown. What is clear is that he is not interested in advocating for social justice when it displeases his employers.
Kaepernick is not unique in this. Another athlete that speaks prominently about racial injustice in America is Lebron James. When Laura Ingraham, a political pundit, said on national television that James should, "shut up and dribble", James was not silent. He made it abundantly clear that he would do anything but shut up and dribble. Rather, he would advocate for what he considered right.
Daryl Morey, GM for the Houston Rockets, tweeted recently about the Hong Kong situation, claiming that Hong Kong should be free. This statement should not be controversial in the least, as the free world has long preferred democratic governments over totalitaristic ones. I would expect Lebron James to be in complete agreement with Morey in this case. Instead, Lebron called Morey "uneducated" and criticized his intentions. Why would Lebron do this?
Morey was eventually forced to apologize for his statement by the NBA, despite it being an objectively correct one. The NBA has business agreements with China, and the revenue from these agreements constitutes a large percentage of the NBA's revenue. To not side with China unconditionally would be to lose that revenue. Therefore, Morey is automatically wrong in the eyes of the NBA.
The NBA losing money also affects Lebron. The projected salary cap of the NBA would drop from 10-15 percent without revenue from China. The salary cap is what pays the players, so if the NBA is screwed, so is Lebron. But that shouldn't matter to someone who claims to be an activist, right?
Lebron's true colors have been revealed as a result of this fiasco. He has chosen money over justice. This would be bad enough on its own. But Lebron is additionally a virtue signaler, who loves telling others how to live their lives. While the slaughtering of Muslims and organ harvesting goes on in China, Lebron is afraid of losing at most a couple million dollars. Lebron is worth 450 million, by the way. Ingraham's comments have aged like fine wine, as Lebron will shut up and dribble when he actually has something to lose. Commenting about police brutality was easy.
Almost no one will call out Lebron as I have. This will most likely blow over and life will carry on as usual. Because in the end, us normal people are no better. I see posts on social media all the time about various societal issues. Do these posts EVER lead to any change? Of course not. In reality, these videos are a mixture of scams, feel good but useless messages, and tools for spreading "awareness" ( If I don't help, someone will). Upon being confronted, many people will say, "At least I'm doing something." Are you? Are you really doing something? Or are you trying to feel better about yourself? Or gain the respect of your peers? Hypocrisy and inaction pervade our society, and there may be no solution.