Richard Sherman Sparks Debate In Sports World Around #BlackLivesMatter
BY: John “Hennry” Harris
The Seattle Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman is known for being brash and outspoken. Sherman grew up in Compton, CA, yes the same Compton that served as the backdrop for the history-making biopic Straight Outta Compton, to earning a degree at Stanford University, one of the more academically challenging institutions in the country. So he has seen Black-on-Black crime, militaristic police response and other atrocities to a higher degree than most.
So, when he speaks, people will tend to listen because of the range of his life experiences and his education, but his latest take on the #BlackLivesMatter movement may not gain him many fans – at least not Black fans.
Sherman, spoke candidly and did say that as a Black man, he wholeheartedly stands for and believes that Black Lives DO INDEED Matter, however, he believes that the movement is misguided because of Black-on-Black on crime.
“I don’t think any time’s a time to call out for an all-out war against police or any race of people. I thought that was an ignorant statement. But as a black man, I do understand that black lives matter. You know, I stand for that, I believe in that wholeheartedly.
But I also think that there’s a way to go about things, and there’s a way to do things. And I think the issue at hand needs to be addressed internally, and before we move on, because from personal experience, you know, you have living in the hood, living in the inner city, you deal with things, you deal with people dying. Dealt with a best friend getting killed … it was two 35-year-old black men. Wasn’t no police officer involved, wasn’t anybody else involved, and I didn’t hear anybody shouting “black lives matter” then … and I think that’s the point we need to get to is that we need to deal with our own internal issues before we move forward and start pointing fingers and start attacking other people. We need to solidify ourselves as people and deal with our issues, because I think as long as we have black-on-black crime and, you know, one black man killing another … if black lives matter, then it should matter all the time.” – Richard Sherman
Sherman’s words echo the sentiments of conservatives and detractors that use the issue of Black-on-Black crime as a reason to deflate the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The problem is that the entire concept of Black-on-Black crime is a controversial one, especially when you compare it to White-on-White crime, which happens at a comparable rate. Another problem is that Black-on-Black crime and the police brutality and murder that #BlackLivesMatter is addressing are separate problems/symptoms of a larger issue of institutional racism. One can not discredit the #BlackLivesMatter movement or condone police misconduct or social injustice because of Black-on-Black crime – especially when one takes a closer look at “Black-on-Black crime.”
Jamelle Bouie, detailed in The Daily Beast, that issue of Black-on-Black crime does not exist and some even say that the notion of the issue itself is inherently racist in its roots. Bouie writes:
Yes, from 1976 to 2005, 94 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders, but that racial exclusivity was also true for white victims of violent crime—86 percent were killed by white offenders. Indeed, for the large majority of crimes, you’ll find that victims and offenders share a racial identity, or have some prior relationship to each other.
Sherman’s own teammate, Michael Bennett, and ESPN sports talk host Michael Smith, of His & Hers, have both come out in opposition of Sherman’s views. I don’t agree with Sherman, but I still applaud him for having the gall to let his opinion be known on such a controversial topic and getting the discussion rolling at a time when most athletes are afraid to speak up in fear of losing corporate endorsements.
BOSSes, where do you stand?
Below are Richard Sherman’s full statement and Michael Smith and Jamele Hill of ESPN‘s His & Hers giving their opinion:
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