Then New York City.
Then Baltimore, Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., San Jose, Nashville, San Francisco, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Atlanta, Columbus, Reno, Louisville, Las Vegas, Brooklyn.
Rioters engage in a violent game of tit for tat with police officers. Bricks and stones thrown from one side, as pepper spray and rubber bullets projected from the other side. Businesses that stood for generations, burned to the ground. Downtown streets, once filled with vehicles driving to and from, are now filled with angry protesters and rubble underneath thick clouds of smoke. While citizens put their livelihoods at stake fighting for what they believe in, the so-called generals are nowhere in sight.
Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee protesting the National Anthem (after he lost his starting quarterback spot in the NFL), symbolically said that all police officers were pigs, and tweets out messages encouraging the violence, is currently missing in action. Former Kaepernick teammate Eric Reid has taken to Twitter to speak out against the injustices of America, but has yet to make a public appearance of any sort. LeBron James is a man who boldly proclaimed that African-Americans were “hunted” every time they step foot outside their homes. He is a man who asks “Why doesn’t America love us, too?” He is also a man who, as of this writing, was last seen riding his bicycle through the streets of Los Angeles with members of the Klutch Sports agency. Angela Rye urges African-Americans to “take on the system” from the comfort of her abode. Ice Cube tweets and tweets and tweets and tweets and...tweets.
Many celebrities make bold, divisive statements from their luxurious gated communities, but when it is time to roll their sleeves up and turn their words into actions, they cannot be found. No one is expecting them to irresponsibly riot in the streets, or put themselves in crosshairs of physical harm (although, they would if they want to see change as much as they say they do). However, given their influence, they can do SOMETHING. Even if it is as simple as making a public appearance like Atlanta Hip-Hop artists T.I. and Killer Mike did. Participation in a peaceful protest like Jamie Foxx is an option. Maybe a few can help clean up the streets in the destroyed cities. At the very least, offer financial assistance to some small businesses that were destroyed in the chaos.
In the wake of mass destruction and unrest in America, when the time for talk is over and the time action has arrived, the celebrity generals have failed the nation. Celebrities, most notably Nike employees Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James, have fanned the flames of social injustice and elicited emotion from their loyal followers without offering any feasible solutions. Rioting is not a solution.
Perhaps it is time to take inventory of your so-called social justice leaders.