A retired American football player says leading sports and entertainment personalities the world over must be prepared to stand up and be counted in the face of social injustice.
Using the recent protest by fellow National Football League (NFL) players that drew the wrath of United States president Donald Trump as an example, the former Green Bay Packers running back Dorsey Levens told Barbados TODAY that if he was still playing in the league, he would have joined those taking the knee during the playing of the national anthem as a show of personal disgust against alleged racial inequality and police brutality.
And even with president Trump threatening the players with sacking, Levens insists that whether it be in the United States or Barbados, influential personalities who are held in high esteem have a major responsibility to stand up for the vulnerable within society, and therefore must not be afraid to speak their minds.
“The platform for athletes and entertainers is amazing.
“People look up to stars, not only kids, but adults as well, and you have a voice that is louder now than anytime it has been in our history because of social media,” said Levens, who was speaking on the sidelines of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference at the Grenada Radisson Hotel on Wednesday after delivering his keynote speech.
Amid a rapidly changing technological era, the ex-NFL player further warned that the global power dynamic was shifting away from the establishment.
“So the history has been for the establishment, whenever people stand up, to keep oppressing them.
“In the past you could just threaten guys with money and they would just shut up and sit down and there is still a lot of that going on today.
“There are a lot of guys who want to protest but they are afraid and that’s not a judgement on them. “However, there are those who are indispensable to the team, the Lebron James-type figures, and I am sure you have some in Barbados, who can afford to say more,” Levens told Barbados TODAY.
“The bigger names need to stand up for all, but in the end it all comes down to the individual. For me I am done, but I have two kids that look like me and I want this to be a better world for them,” he said. The ex-Green Bay Packers player stressed that “ there are a lot of things that need to be addressed that aren’t being addressed . . . and it goes back to that slave mentality that when people want to stand up and rise, [the authorities] go for the more powerful voices and put their foot on their throats and hopefully everyone else will stay quiet.
“I am very doubtful that is going to work because in this day and age there are just far too many voices,” he warned.