The Village

  • Hands Up, Don’t Shoot … The St. Louis Rams

    Dec 11, 2014. Written by Harry Colbert

    Prior to Sunday’s (Nov. 30) St. Louis Rams game against the Oakland Raiders, I had a Facebook status in my head all ready to go basically saying that if the Rams move to L.A., which is widely speculated, that I would disown them the same way I did the Arizona Cardinals. My saying was going to be “I’m loyal to St. Louis, not the Rams.”

    Then Sunday happened.

    And in happened, I’m not talking about the epic 52-0 win over the Raiders. And with a 52-0 win you’d think that’d be the only thing people were talking about, but people aren’t talking about the game at all, but what happened before the game.

    Prior to the contest, inside the Edward Jones Dome, home to the St. Louis Rams, five young men – offensive starters for the Rams – were introduced, and in a planned show of unity, came out with both their hands raised … the gesture, “Hands Up Don’t Shoot.” That now iconic photo is the cover photo on my Facebook page.

    Well, let’s just say that true to form, the racists of St. Louis ( and throughout the nation) have all but called for public lynchings. Unfortunately, that’s not just hyperbole. Read the comments on any news site and you’ll see 90 percent of white supposed Rams fans all but offering to pay the relocation fees to get the Rams and those “uppity, thug sympathizers” out of town (because of course Mike Brown was nothing but a worthless thug who deserved to be executed).

    With hands raised, this was our generation’s Tommy Smith, John Carlos 1968 Mexico City Olympics watershed moment. The stage not quite as big, but the magnitude of the gesture was heard just as loud thanks to the internet.

    It’s funny how athletes – in particular, black athletes – are deified for their athletic pursuits, but the moment they take a stand on issues of social justice they are scum of the earth. Sometimes it’s hard to blame Michael Jordan for not speaking out on social issues. Had he spoken out on issues of race during his playing career he’d be lucky to have gotten an endorsement deal with Payless Shoes, let alone Nike.

    With their hands raised, Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Jared Cook, and Chris Givens said there are things more important than football. With that collective gesture of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” what these courageous men did was say they don’t just play for the Rams, they play for humanity.

    As a child, I remember my mother loved the Los Angeles Dodgers and even rooted for them against the hometown St. Louis Cardinals and I’d get so upset until she told me how black players and fans were treated by St. Louis ballplayers and fans. She would talk of fearing for her safety, being spat upon and cursed at during Cards/Dodgers (then the Brooklyn Dodgers) games. Those games saw the most black fans with the majority there to cheer for Jackie Robinson and other blacks on the Dodger team.

    It’s sad that in 2014, some 50-plus years later we’ve come so far to have not really come that far at all. Truly in my heart I want to believe that those with racist beliefs are a slim minority because I know and am close friends with so many people of all backgrounds, but I’m coming to realize that those who hate and/or fear (and I do believe fear is the key driver) black people are strong in numbers.

    But back to the Rams … what a game! I loved it from beginning to end (and when I say beginning, I’m talking pregame introduction). So if the Rams are run out of St. Louis, whereas before I said good riddance, now I say I’m forever a Rams fan … wherever they end up calling home.