Opinion: White athletes need to take a stand against racism

Dan Armelli

It’s been almost a week now, and I’m still upset by the results of the 2016 presidential election.

President-elect Donald Trump, who ran a campaign focused on oppressing minorities, is tabbed to be the 45th president of the United States. As a result, it’s clear the country still has a huge problem with the inclusion of minorities.

Prior to the results of the election, we’ve seen professional athletes start movements to bring awareness in groundbreaking ways to racial injustices throughout our country.

This summer, we saw NBA players LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony speak out at the ESPYs after shootings in Dallas and Orlando.

We also saw NFL player Colin Kaepernick take a knee during the National Anthem, suggesting, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

The election and re-election of President Barack Obama allowed me to be ignorant to just how much racism is still a part of our country. The election of Trump, however, forces me to face the truth that this country’s racist roots lurk behind every corner.

In response, it’s time for more white athletes to act against racism.

Rarely have I seen white athletes do things like what we’ve seen from Kaepernick and James. What’s more upsetting is seeing white athletes take a stand opposing those players’ stances.

I am tired of constantly being let down by my race when it comes to the presidential election.

Athletes such as Trevor Bauer from the Cleveland Indians and Derek Wolfe from the Denver Broncos have boasted their support for Trump. And while that doesn’t make them racist or tell me that they hate minorities, it does show that they don’t care much for them either or just don’t understand.

I’ve seen statements that are well-intentioned, but don’t really do anything to make progress. When asked about the election results, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr argued, “We need to come together … We have a new leader.”

Even if that’s true, for someone that has the platform he has, it rings hollow for the people that are being left behind. Minorities can’t come together with us if the majority in this country would rather them not be a part of what their definition of “together” means.

While it’s not Carr’s fault there is a racial divide in the U.S., it is crucial that a non-minority athlete takes a stand.

Our country needs more from our white athletes. Whether it’s sitting out the first play of a game or donating a game check to organizations focused on improving racial injustice (like Kaepernick did to the tune of $1 million), something needs to be physically done to show that they understand the magnitude of this problem in America.

I’m not here to say that white athletes’ word will carry more weight than the black athletes that have spoken before them, but more that white athletes speaking feels like another necessary step, as Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem was.

White athletes taking a stand against our next president breaks the status quo and furthers the conversation started and carried out by various black athletes. White athletes need to make it known that their black counterparts aren’t alone in the fight to end racism.

I hope Trump proves his detractors and me wrong in the next four years. But even if that happens, our country struggles with a huge racial divide, and white athletes need to do their part to eliminate it.

Dan Armelli is a columnist, contact him at [email protected]