In a time of pain and anguish, it is important for those in a position of power and leadership to use their privilege for the betterment of society and of others.
The Tampa Bay Rays statement made this week encapsulates this concept well, while also starting a conversation about why there are protests and how we can take action to make the country better and safer for everyone.
Following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, we have engaged in conversations with community leaders and our Diversity and Inclusion Committee.— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 2, 2020
The Rays and Rowdies are issuing the following statement: pic.twitter.com/FxCmKn8Jll
This statement cuts deeper than what many other sports teams and sports figures have publicly stated on the issue, and it shines a light on why there are protests, why people are hurting, why we need change, and possibly even more importantly, what we can do to alleviate all of these problems.
While the Rays’ initial silence on the matter over the weekend and into Tuesday was deafening, it’s clear the organization used that time to develop a well thought out response to what has ensued the last week or so. For that, we must commend them, and not just for condemning racism but for aligning with the protest movement.
It is important for those with power to speak out, and it is important that we not lose sight of why we protest.
It is because for me, as a black man in America, police interactions are a matter of life and death. It is because the criminal justice system isn’t on our side. It is because of how those charged with the duty of protecting us haven’t been protecting us.
Calling out police brutality by name and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement is a bold thing for a sports team to do in such a public venue, but the show of solidarity and support to those who are suffering from systematically oppressive institutions is invaluable.
Providing financial support to causes and naming organizations which help fight against theses systematic issues sets the Rays and Rowdies organization even further apart from their peers, reminding everyone that making a statement is easy, doing something about it is hard.
For this, I am very proud to be a Rays fan.