Opening the Waves for Everyone: Surfing, Race, and Political Awareness

Tropics of Meta

 empireinwaves

In recent months the sight of NFL, NBA, and NCAA athletes donning t-shirts protesting the deaths of Ferguson’s Michael Brown, Staten Island’s Eric Garner and other black Americans by law enforcement officers has become commonplace, as have critical reactions to such symbolic acts. The St. Louis Police Department and the Rams’ now famous passive aggressive Twitter battle serves as only one example of the friction that arises when athletes voice a political position. Still, recent protests like those described here seem a far cry from the 1980s. Michael Jordan never did tell kids to stop shooting each other over his sneakers, and when pressed about his politics or rather the lack thereof, he turned to market economics. To paraphrase the hall of fame guard, “Republicans buy shoes too.” In contrast, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose and others quickly adopted “I can’t breathe shirts” in warm ups this past

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