(Todd A. Smith)

Last week, a member of a private Facebook group that I belong to questioned whether civil rights organizations like the NAACP remained relevant and necessary in the 21st century.

The timing for that question is ironic because the organization, and others, continues to show their commitment to the struggle of Black folks and our uplift.

In reference to a letter sent to Charlie Baker, head of the NCAA, by the two top NAACP officials, NPR reported, “Black college athletes should rethink any decision to attend public colleges and universities in Florida, the NAACP advised in an extraordinary letter issued in response to efforts by Gov. Ron DeSantis to weaken diversity, equity and inclusion efforts statewide.

“The letter…comes on the heels of last week’s announcement by the University of Florida that it would eliminate the school’s diversity, equity and inclusion staff in order to come into compliance with anti-DEI law signed last year by DeSantis.

With the NAACP’s recent call for aspiring and current Black college athletes to boycott schools in Florida, I believe those organizations are more needed than ever.

Furthermore, the call for a boycott in Florida needs to be extended to states like Texas too because if people cannot respect diversity when it comes to the regular student body and faculty, they should not expect diversity when athletes of color make millions of dollars for state schools thanks to football and basketball.

The boycott should extent to any state that does away with diversity, equity and inclusion.

And more athletes need to do what Travis Hunter initially did when he signed with Jackson State out of high school, bypassing predominantly White institutions (PWIs) for the love and support of an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

Black college athletes should coin a new phrase like, “when you don’t go woke, you definitely go broke.”

Many conservatives have spent the last few years stopping racial equality and unity by calling it “woke” as if being aware of racial injustice represents a bad thing.

Schools across the country have shuttered their diversity, equity and inclusion offices because laws make addressing racism illegal.

Many Republicans like Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have spoken out against racial inclusion at state schools.

However, those same politicians do not seem to have a problem with diverse football and basketball teams at state schools within their state lines.

Therefore, Black athletes should use their power to give racist lawmakers a wakeup call to their worth since they have not awakened to the obvious, which is Black talent has made many institutions wealthy, cool and desirable for the regular student body.

And if they do not desire us, we should desire to make others wealthy, mainly those from our own community.

Racial equality has never resulted from people seeing the error of their ways or seeing the humanity in their brethren from different demographic groups.

Buses did not integrate because people felt sorry for heroes like Rosa Parks or the Freedom Riders.

Integration happened because Black people and their allies put a dent in the wallet of the oppressor.

When Black people, who represented a large consumer base of the Montgomery, Ala. public bus system, decided to carpool or walk instead of supporting a racist company, the bus system almost went under, prompting them to integrate quick, fast and in a hurry.

The owners were still racist.

But they did not want their racism to affect their bottom line.

Republicans like DeSantis and Abbott epitomize racism.

And this time, Black people should not even boycott to achieve perceived equality, coming back when the White power structure begs for our money again.

They should just permanently take their talents and all the wealth it produces to people and institutions who love them and support them unconditionally.

Just imagine some of the best football and basketball programs in Florida and Texas without its Black talent.

And we are not just talking about what they brought to the field or the court.

What about what they brought to pop culture?

What about what they brought to apparel sales?

Name a child that grew up in the early 1990s that did not rock Miami Hurricanes gear no matter how far away from the “Sunshine State” they lived.

Sure, Miami Hurricanes football had White stars like Bernie Kosar and Vinny Testaverde.

But I do not remember any kid dreaming of becoming the next Kosar or Testaverde in the 1980s.

The Miami Hurricanes became cool because of the brothers on their teams from Alonzo Highsmith to Warren Sapp to Ray Lewis to Andre Johnson.

Likewise, children across the country did not rock Phi Slama Jama University Houston gear because of players like Reid Gettys and David Rose.

They wore Phi Slama Jama gear because of Clyde “The Glide” Drexler, Benny Anders, Michael Young and Hakeem (then Akeem) “The Dream” Olajuwon.

The same can be said about basketball programs of the 1990s from UNLV to the “Fab Five” of Michigan.

Just imagine if all that intellectual property went to making HBCUs wealthy instead of schools and states that only tolerated them because it fattens their coffers.

Since diversity is bad for PWIs, then let’s help HBCUs diversify their portfolio by using Black talent to enrich Black institutions, instead of predominantly White ones who seem not to want people of color there in the first place.

Todd A. Smith
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