Week 4: LeBron James' Activism Then and Now

#MoreThanAnAthlete is a weekly series that discusses the social, political, and cultural implications of LeBron James as a sportsman, raceman, and storyteller. Anyone is welcome to follow along with some of the content my students and I will be reading and watching this semester. Comments welcome!

June 22, 2016. Downtown Cleveland. #cavsparade Photo: a fan.

June 22, 2016. Downtown Cleveland. #cavsparade Photo: a fan.

This week's discussion questions comes from Dave Zirin's article: "Edge of Sports: Why LeBron James Must Not Shut Up" (2018).

Zirin argues that while Magic Johnson's investment in the black community matters:

it should not come at the expense of LeBron’s voice. In the end, waiting for LeBron to be outspoken in Los Angeles is not a winning strategy. We must work to sustain the social movements against racial inequity that drive him to keep using his voice to fight for a better world. Los Angeles is its own hermetically sealed universe; cracking it open for the greater good will be the task at hand.

  1. What is at stake for LBJ's social activism now that he's in LA? That is, how do you think LBJ's activism will play out in Los Angeles overtime, given the different social, political, and cultural contexts?

  2. Given LBJ's expanding businesses in sports, film, television, wellness/fitness, etc., how do you see LBJ's activism changing or evolving? Is there tension between the two worlds LBJ has built (activism/advocacy and business/capitalist pursuits)--are they complimentary? 

  3. In other words, how would you characterize LBJ's activism and/or investment in Black communities and how does it compare and contrast to those who came before him like Muhammad Ali and Magic Johnson?