Talk About What’s Important Today: EMU, Michigan Athletes Prepare Black Lives Matter Protest

College athletes across Washtenaw County prepare joint Black Lives Matter protest.

The Detroit Lions canceled practice and said that football’s not important today. That was Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks said that playoff basketball’s not important today.

What’s important today is what we saw on Sunday. What you and I saw is something we shouldn’t forget: cops followed James Blake with their guns drawn towards him into his car, where three of his kids watched the cops shoot their father seven times in the back. Blake’s life didn’t matter to those cops that day. In the days that followed, professional athletes have shown how much more Blake’s life matters than sports.

Now, we’re seeing things reach the collegiate levels. Locally, Eastern Michigan linebacker Tariq Speights has used his platform to call for action and change many times this summer, and the Blake shooting certainly didn’t silence him. It also won’t silence everybody that shows up to the Black Lives Matter protest he, and other athletes from both EMU and Michigan — getting all of Washtenaw County out in the field — this Sunday at noon.

“Eastern Michigan University & University of Michigan student-athletes are joining forces to peacefully protest the racial injustices that African Americans in our country continue to face daily,” the flyer Speights tweeted out Wednesday night said. “Bring & wear your mask; social distancing encouraged,” because we’re still dealing with the coronavirus, unfortunately.

When: Sunday, Aug. 30 at noon

Where: Downtown Ann Arbor (University Ave., Ann Arbor, Mich.)

In the tweet, Michigan football player Hunter Reynolds was tagged and has shared the information on his timeline.

Two days ago, Notre Dame created a BLM video in solidarity for the protests sparked by Sunday’s shooting against Blake, who, 29, is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down and might never walk again. There was a peaceful protest in South Bend where the school’s women’s basketball coach Niele Ivey was in attendance.

There was a huge wave of protests over the summer after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and many more, that called for many changes backed by the same common message: end police brutality once and for all.

Since the inital wave of protests (which wasn’t that long ago), two young Black men that recently played football in the MAC still died by gunfire: Jamal Williams, a Western Michigan graduate, and Jahneil Douglas, who was coming up on his senior year at Toledo.

In Tuesday’s protests in the city where Blake’s livlihood was stolen from, a 17-year old white boy named Kyle ran around the streets with a semi-automatic rifle (Kenosha, Wisc. police let him do so), shot at and killed two protesters, then went home to get some bed rest before being picked up and arrested for first-degree intentional homicide. Kyle was the same age as Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in 2012 by a neighborhood watch coordinator because Martin wore a hoodie and bought some Skittles from the local 7-Eleven.

Martin’s life didn’t matter to George Zimmerman that day, and it still doesn’t matter to him today. Martin’s life didn’t matter to the system that let Zimmerman walk away free and still be able to sue Martin’s family for making the killer look like the bad guy.

Black lives don’t matter to the people who gave the thumbs-up eight years ago and are still defending the horrors against Black lives today. And if the actual lives of Black people still don’t matter to enough people today, then athletes have shown that they’re ready to push back and make them re-evaluate their priorities.

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