African-American sports writer William C. Rhoden said at a recent conference in Phoenix that in order for the survival of his race it's time for younger blacks to get socially "woke" and carry on the legacy of older social justice warriors. The author of Forty Million Dollar Slaves (see Amazon's book description) made his remarks at the Global Sport Summit at Arizona State University. The older generations also need to educate young African-Americans on fighting for equality, he advises.
Rhoden, a past New York Times columnist who currently writes for ESPN's blog The Undefeated, told the audience, “If you don’t know you are in a relay race, how do you know when to take the baton? Us black folks are in what you call an eternal relay race. You can’t win the race without giving the baton, but they have to take the baton.”
Without identifying who is threatening the survival of African-Americans in the U.S., Rhoden said,“We just have to pass information down for our survival in this country.”
Rhoden touched on his controversial book at the summit, having written that the younger generation of athletes aren’t prepared for current racial realities in America. Younger people don’t realize how hard black athletes (like Jackie Robinson) had to fight to break the former race barrier in major league sports.
“If you are a young person, and you have no idea of the struggle that came before you, then you don’t think there is anything to fight for."
How can young athletes not be aware of past struggles with media constantly reminding them about the wildly exaggerated Forty Million Dollar Slaves? In that book, Rhoden wrote that "black athletes still find themselves on the periphery of true power in the multibillion-dollar industry their talent built."
Rhoden took on the sports media establishment because of a report by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports reporting that "only" 18 percent of journalists are people of color." However, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated in 2018 that the African-American population in the country is 13.4 percent. Sounds like some race-baiters are manufacturing a fake crisis about sports media diversity.
His griping was not complete without some selective racial rationalization either. Rhoden did not call for more diversity in football and basketball, which are dominated by African-American athletes. He did, however, demand more diverse representations in so-called "invisible industry" that handles game-day production for sporting events, which is predominantly white.
Rhoden also spoke about his desire for an entitlement system that would result in one-and-done basketball players and other African-American athletes who leave college early to turn pro to hand over their scholarships to younger athletes. Such a hair-brained scheme would require universities and coaches to relinquish control of scholarships to outgoing athletes working with incoming freshmen.
Those athletes leave with leverage, and they should support other people of color to pursue their dreams too. It is up to someone next to Zion (Williamson) (who played one season of basketball at Duke University this year and is moving on to the NBA) and these guys to realize that it is just not about you,” Rhoden said.
Tooting his own horn, Rhoden said pro stars have never been more disconnected from their home communities, but since his book came out the situation is getting better.