Shut up and listen: celebrity voices matter

By 

The Nexus (Camino Del Sur, San Diego)

 

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James is one of the best basketball players of our time. He recently became the first basketball player ever to reach 30,000 points, 8,000 assists, and 8,000 rebounds, and as he continues to rack up points for his team, trying to carry them to victory. James has also been especially outspoken on political and social issues that continue to divide our society, including protesting the unwarranted murder of black people and speaking out against racism. He relates his struggles as a black man in America to fellow basketball player Kevin Durant and Cari Champion.

James criticizes President Trump, bluntly stating that “the No. 1 job in America, the appointed person is someone who doesn’t understand the people.”

Durant also voices his concerns, drawing from his experience as a basketball player. He explains that the coach of a team is crucial to a team’s cohesiveness, and said he felt that our country is not run by a very good coach.

However, many people fault LeBron James and Kevin Durant for speaking out about politically divisive issues. Fox News host Laura Ingraham derided the players for their social and political activism, condescendingly telling James to “shut up and dribble.”

This phrase is by no means new to Laura Ingraham. In 2006, she wrote a book titled Shut Up and Sing, which told the so-called Hollywood elites to stop using their platforms to push their political views. She also told Robert DeNiro to “shut up and act,” and Jimmy Kimmel to “shut up and make us laugh.”

These types of “shut up and do your jobs” comments undermine the kind of democracy that everyone should be able to exercise, no matter the profession. It’s unfair to those who have attained such a level of success and influence to be silenced for their political views.

In the video, James says that there were three people he looked to for inspiration when he was younger: The President of the United States, the best athlete at the time, and the greatest musician at the time.  Currently, however, children of color. But as race relations worsen, and words of political divisiveness are spewed, people like James are who we need to bring awareness to problems in our society. By speaking out, he is serving as a role model to all people that watch him, on and off the court. His foundation has helped thousands of kids go to college for free, and his tweets, instead of directing hate, bridge the division in our society. He shared on Twitter that he shed tears after Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile were fatally shot by police.

James should have every right to use his platform to speak out for what he believes in, as a concerned American citizen. Simply because James is a professional basketball player doesn’t limit him to just providing insight on issues that worries him as a rich black man in America as he says himself.  Ingraham attempts to discredit James and Durant by attacking their imperfect grammar and telling them that the people voted Donald Trump as coach, not them. Yet their influence expands way beyond just bouncing a ball for the NBA. Her disregard for the First Amendment is almost shocking considering her defense of the Second Amendment and gun rights. It is hardly up to her or any other political commentators to tell athletes and celebrities how to act. And as lines are crossed in the political sphere, there are obvious repercussions, and silencing dissenters is the wrong way to resolve these issues.

Instead of avoiding them and continuing to suppress these voices, accept that these problems that James has always been talking about need to be addressed and work to solve them in Congress.

 

Photo Credit: David Shankbone

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