Harry Edwards: White athletes need to speak out against injustice

Thursday December 15th, 2016

Sports sociologist and activist Harry Edwards says white athletes need to speak out against racial injustice as much as black athletes do.

Edwards, who advises leagues on diversity and famously helped organize the Olympic Project for Human Rights in the 1960s, explained his position to Greg Bishop for a feature in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated about the future of athlete activism. 

Bishop's story centers on Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin and his dedication to social activism in the months since the Seahawks first locked arms in solidarity during the national anthem before their first game of the season. Baldwin has arranged meetings with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the Seattle Police Department, politicians, advocacy groups and body camera companies, all in an effort to find a path toward social justice.

Baldwin has spoken at conferences and to the media about his displeasure with the state of racial discrimination in the U.S., and Edwards says more white athletes should be more willing to be as outspoken.

NFL
Now what? That's the question for Doug Baldwin and other athlete activists

“Most white athletes have remained silent,” Edwards told Bishop. “Other than some of them saying, ‘I support Donald Trump.’ Even foreign-born athletes have more to say than white American athletes. Just one star would have a tremendous impact.

“That’s why you don’t see much [activism] in baseball and hockey, where players are predominantly white. Same for most of the people in the stands.”

Other athletes who have become known for speaking out against injustice are LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Malcolm Jenkins and Benjamin Watson, all of whom are black.

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