For the second straight night, millions of basketball fans were unable to watch their favorite teams play in the postseason. They were not alone. Millions of hockey fans were likewise unable to watch theirfavorite teams compete in the postseason. The decision by the NBA and the NHL to postpone their playoff games – and the subsequent decision by major league baseball to follow suit and postpone some of its regular-season games – will no doubt be seen by some as an inconvenience. After all, thanks to the worst pandemic to hit the United States in over a century, millions of die-hard fans were deprived of watching their beloved sports for four and a half months.
They will recover, which is more than can be said for Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back seven times while his kids were watching in the back seat of his car and who will never be able to walk again; or Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death in her own apartment; or George Floyd, who had a knee held to his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds and died of asphyxiation; or Rayshard Brooks, who was gunned down outside a Wendy’s after falling asleep behind the wheel of his car; or Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed while jogging in a white neighborhood.
These are just some of the latest victims of systemic racism in this country. Whether at the hands of law enforcement or, as in the case of Arbery, local residents, we’ve seen this movie way too many times in America. In fact, it has become a national tragedy. If there is such a thing as an inflection point, the African American community has certainly reached it.
Thoughts and prayers? Been there, done that. Protests? Up the yin yang. Who knows, maybe a few days without their precious sports might get enough people’s attention. Then again, we are talking about a country that sadly has the attention span of a toddler.
Speaking of toddlers, the current occupant of the Oval Office, who brings new meaning to the term oblivious, can claim all he wants that this is Joe Biden’s America. But the undeniable truth is that all this is happening on his watch. No, Trump did not invent racism; it predated him by four centuries. But he has stoked it to such a fever pitch that the country is a powder keg waiting to ignite.
And for that he is responsible. For all of Trump’s crimes, perhaps his most egregious, and the one that will take years to repair after he leaves office – which hopefully will be this January – is the manner in which he has split wide open the fissures of an already divided nation. While Lincoln spoke to our better angels, Trump preys on our worst demons. Indeed, he seems to take great delight at pouring rubbing alcohol on the open wound of the Republic’s original sin; a wound that has now fully metastasized into every nook and cranny of society.
His Nuremberg rally of a convention this week was designed to appeal to a particular segment of the electorate; a segment that enabled him to win the White House in 2016. Clearly, he is looking for lightning to strike twice. Unfortunately for him, all presidential elections are ultimately referendums on the incumbent, and whether Trump likes it or not, he’s the incumbent this time around, not the challenger. For a man who has spent his entire adult life dodging responsibility and blaming everyone under the sun for his own fuckups, karma may finally be catching up with him.
Look, I am not saying that the defeat of Trump will magically transform the country into an oasis of peace, love and understanding. Twelve years ago, some of us were naive enough to believe that the election of the nation’s first African American to the office of the presidency would ease racial tensions. Instead it only exacerbated them.
What I can tell you is this: reelecting Trump will all but guarantee more of the same senseless violence and polarization. If there is a breaking point for every Democracy, we are dangerously close to reaching ours.