When we think about alleviating the economic woes of the Black community, what can we learn from the actions of LeBron James?
When analyzing the political stagnation of the Black community, what role is played by our community’s undying loyalty to the Democratic Party?
How can the “360 deals” (popular in the music industry) shed light on the inability of the Black community to prosper?
The answers to these seemingly unrelated questions hold important keys to creating a different reality for the Black community in 2012. The lessons we can learn from each of these scenarios are critical to both understanding and allaying the economic and political ills currently plaguing our community.
As we enter the last days of 2011 many have began formulating their New Year’s resolutions. But, unlike most people who are crafting individual goals for 2012, my thoughts are more collective in nature—they are thoughts about New Year’s resolutions for the Black community as a whole.
Scenario 1: The Curious Case of LeBron
When LeBron James made the decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers after his contract ended, many questioned his loyalty to the city and the fans. Some denounced the “greediness” that supposedly motivated his interest in other teams, and still others condemned his signing with the Miami Heat as being “bad for basketball.”
In actuality, the actions of LeBron James—as well as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh,who assisted in bringing him to the Heat—displayed a degree of independence and autonomy previously unseen in the NBA. In the past, superstar athletes thrived off the benefits that come with being the one “great” player on a team full of “good” players. Additionally, superstars were content viewing the superstars on other teams as “rivals” to be defeated in competition. But, with the actions of LeBron, the self-centeredness of the “great” player was replaced by the common goal (an NBA championship) of multiple players and one-time “rivals” who had been transformed into teammates, working together toward that common goal.
Needless to say, Black men organizing, thinking independently and acting collectively has always been met with opposition, especially in the NBA where the owner-player relationship is often reminiscent of the owner-slave relationship on the plantations in the antebellum south.