Donald Sterling's racist rant about blacks last month put a huge amount of focus on professional athletes. Many sports writers and fans have labeled today's athletes as spoiled, ungrateful, prima donnas who have no appreciation for those who came before them.
You can count me in this group. But, if what I have been seeing over the past two weeks continue, I may become a believer in the fledgling view that some athletes are beginning to "get it."
First, NBA players made it clear to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver that they would boycott playoff games if Sterling was not banned from the game. The players won. Sterling was not only permanently banned from the NBA, but the league is in the process of forcing him to sell his NBA franchise.
Thus far the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag has failed its primary mission. Aside from 53 girls who managed to escape in the early portion of the April 14, 2014 attack, not one of the over 200 remaining Nigerian school girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorists has returned home. Does that mean that hashtag activism is a pointless concept or that affecting real change via social media is impossible? Absolutely not.
Successes and failures of #BringBackOurGirls
Created by Nigerian lawyer Ibrahim M. Abullahi, the hashtag has been tweeted over one million times. People all over the world, celebrities and even First Lady Michelle Obama have participated in the campaign. Though a handful of American media outlets reported on the mass abduction in the first week of the crime, updates on the South Korean ferry disaster and the missing Malaysian plane still dominated the international news headlines.
Thousands of fast food workers took to the streets last week, staging strikes in protest over their low pay. In states where the minimum wage has not been raised above the federal level, if a worker could put together a full-time, full-year schedule, she would earn just $15,080 a year.
Some people scoff at raising the minimum wage for these workers, on the basis that "they only flip burgers." By that logic, what should you get paid if you are the chief burger flipper? Not much, right? Well, the CEOs of fast food restaurants average $11,884,000 in pay annually. That's a lot of hamburgers to flip.
Here is where the math of inequality comes into play. We haven't given minimum wage workers a raise in more than five years, yet inflation has continued. So minimum wage workers' purchasing power has been falling. In 2009, $15,080 a year would place a single mother with a child above the poverty threshold. Today, she and her child would be living in poverty.
Top Ten DVD List for May 20, 2014
"Secrets of the Third Reich"
Why, asked a reporter at a Friday press conference, did none of the African-American "leaders" recently interviewed by her news outlet not come down on Commissioner Henri Brooks for remarks made while challenging the award of a county roofing contract to a firm with no African-American roofers?
"We identify with what she is talking about," said the Rev. Dr. L. LaSimba Gray, the Memphis head of Rainbow PUSH, one of three groups and several ministers who called the conference at Cane Creek Baptist Church.
"During the civil rights movement we didn't all agree with Malcolm X, but we didn't challenge Malcolm X because Malcolm X spoke truth to what we were living with every day. And what Henri Brooks was speaking to is what we live with every day," said Gray.
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