LeBron James made a big statement Monday night when, like Derrick Rose, Reggie Bush, the Los Angeles Lakers, Georgetown basketball players and athletes, he donned an “I can’t breathe” T-shirt. It was a statement that wasn’t lost on Geraldo Rivera, who offered a little advice in a Fox News “Race in America” discussion in the aftermath of protests over the death of Eric Garner.
Garner is the man who died after being placed in a chokehold by Staten Island Police and whose last words were, “I can’t breathe.”
“I wondered to myself,” Rivera said, “what if LeBron James instead had a shirt, ‘Be a better father to your son.’ ‘Raise your children.’
“Those difficult issues are not being dealt with by the black community because they are so complex. They are so deep-rooted. They are really so profoundly troubling that they don’t want to try and it is a victimization mentality that says, “We can only motivate when we are the victims.” It goes in keeping with everything that’s happened in the black community and the generations preceding.
“It’s easy to demonstrate and be outraged when we are the victims. “Look what they are doing to us,” rather than “Look what we are doing to ourselves.” There is a kind of urban suicide happening here that has to be dealt with.”
Interestingly, fatherhood is a topic James has often discussed. Raised by a single mother, he has frequently talked about responsible parenthood and, with his wife Savannah, has three children. He has also spoken about how not having a father in his life has made him who he is today.
“My whole life growing up I just kinda always said ‘why me, Why me, why didn’t my dad want to be around?” he said in an interview with CNN’s Rachel Nichols. “I feel like I’m a pretty cool kid, I’m a good kid, why wouldn’t he want to be around for me?’ And as I got older, when I had my own family, I started to think the reason he wasn’t there is the reason why I became so strong mentally, so loving to my mother. I am who I am today because he wasn’t there, because I use it as motivation. Everything that I’ve gained, he has a role in that.”
The Lakers and Kobe Bryant wore the “I can’t breathe” shirts Tuesday night and he explained that the protest isn’t what many think it’s about.
“I think it would be a serious disservice to limit this to a race issue. It’s a justice issue,” he said (via the Los Angeles Times). “You’re kind of seeing a tipping point right now, in terms of social issues. It’s become at the forefront right now as opposed to being a local issue. It’s really something that has carried over and spilled into the mainstream, so when you turn on the TV and you watch the news or you follow things on social media, you don’t just see African Americans out there protesting.”