If I didn’t read it for myself, I probably wouldn’t believe it.
But then again, with race issues in this country being at an all-time high, I probably would.
I have always had an issue with the way the majority of these colleges and universities have treated student-athletes.
The culture of greed and materialism has been masked by the premise that a scholarship to that college or university should warrant the treatment these student-athletes receive.
These athletes, especially when it comes to football and basketball, perform at the highest level before tens of thousands of fans, alumni and boosters, and receive nothing more than a scholarship for their talent and efforts – while the colleges and universities make millions of dollars on ticket sales, merchandise and concessions.
It has and continues to be a big business for everyone but the student-athlete and their families.
Which brings me to my most recent bout of disappointment and concern?
I’m sure you all remember the courageous young student-athletes at the University of Missouri who threatened not to play football until Tim Wolfe, who was the University of Missouri system president at the time, resigned or was forcibly removed from his duties as president.
Those courageous young student-athletes decided to take a stand and chose not to take the football field because of the way the administration handled racial discrimination complaints on their campus and because University of Missouri graduate student Jonathan Butler refused to eat until Wolfe stepped down.
If you followed the story, you know that Wolfe resigned shortly thereafter, and before the university was going to get hit with a financial blow that would have cost them roughly $1 million. Not only did Wolfe resign, but the chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin, also resigned.
Many people across this country, including the student-athletes celebrated the outcome and went back to business as usual.
Now that the smoke has cleared, we see that a member of the Missouri state legislator has proposed a bill that revokes the scholarships of any student-athlete who decides that they want to protest and refuse to play football at a state institution.
Yes, you heard me right.
Rep. Rick Brattin (R), a member of the Missouri House of Representatives, along with his co-sponsor of the bill, Rep. Kurt Bahr, who is also a Republican, have introduced this bill to strip scholarships from any student-athlete who “calls, incites, supports or participates in any strike.”
If you think that’s something, you should hear what Brattin and Bahr had to say further.
Bahr said that they “expect the leadership of this state institution to actually lead and not allow the students to call the shots.”
Bahr went on to say that “the issue really is, they (the student-athletes) can have freedom of speech…but if they’re going to receive state money, there are going to be ramifications.”
In other words, let me interpret. He is saying that they can’t ever allow the Black folks, that they are supposed to control, to rise up and have a voice; furthermore, because they’re giving away scholarships to these student-athletes, they get to control the narrative, as well as the overall actions of every student-athlete, regardless of what happens to them, or what they stand for.
Oh did I mention that they want to continue controlling these student-athletes while they continue to make money off of them in the process?
That is akin to modern-day slavery, where the plantation is the football field, in the case of the University of Missouri football team.
The master of the plantation has gotten upset because they have set up a system where they believe the student-athletes are modern day slaves that have no rights or ability to speak out.
Sadly, Republican budget leaders have already indicated that state funding for the University of Missouri will be heavily scrutinized when the legislative session begins in January of next year.
It is up to those of us with a voice and influence to do whatever it takes to defeat this unjust and discriminatory bill that seeks to further disenfranchise individuals, especially African Americans, who are sick and tired of being racially attacked in every facet of their lives in this country.
This is nothing more than a couple of Republican lawmakers, with the ability to shape policy, who are using their political influence to negatively impact the lives of student-athletes who were fed up with being discriminated against and treated unfairly.
The question is who is going to step up to the plate and call out this harmful bill, along with the two Republican lawmakers who co-sponsored it?
The citizens of the state of Missouri, community activists, other legislators and every major grassroots civil rights organization have to step up and defeat this horrendous bill before it stifles the voice of our young people. It is time out for Plantation Politics!
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.