I’m so excited to be writing for Pretty Hustlaz again, it’s been a minute but I am so thrilled to see how much the brand has grown since my first interaction with them in 2013-2014. Allow me to reintroduce myself, my name HOV… it sounded good for the moment lol. I am Jazmine Highsmith founder of Female Athletes ROCK an organization dedicated to empowering female athletes and encouraging young girls to get involved in sports. As a former collegiate athlete (Go Bulls) my passion for sports goes beyond the entertainment aspect and I’m simply excited that Pretty Hustlaz has allowed me the opportunity to use their platform to bring light to certain situations within the world of sports. With that being said; let me jump head first into somethings that have been on my mind….
This past weekend we celebrated America’s Independence Day; land of the free home of the brave but like Trick Daddy said “No way, Not in Amerika”. Following our celebration of Independence Day a video surfaced on the internet from Baton Rouge, Louisiana of a black man by the name of Alton Sterling being murdered by Police Officers. The rage that I felt at that moment is unexplainable but my rage was followed by tears as I asked why? 24 hours later a police officer in Minnesota shot and killed another black man; Philando Castile and the same rage had returned and to learn that his child and girlfriend watched all of this unfold broke my heart. I’m angry and I have every right to be, hell we should all be angry. Two more names added to a growing list, today or tomorrow I or someone I know could be added to the list. I’m exhausted and I’m all cried out for these families, what did we do to deserve such treatment? You’re probably reading this and thinking to yourself “what the hell does, this have to do with sports”? And I’m getting to my point right now. With all of this that has been happening in the world very significant events have taken place in the world of sports; the Olympic Trails, NBA Free Agency to name a few but I haven’t seen any of our sports heroes speak out against the injustice of these two men or any of the men and women that have been killed.
Athletes have such a huge platform, when they speak people listen. Why don’t they use their voice to speak out against police brutality? There are a few that have made statements in previous incidents ie; the St. Louis Rams with their Hands up Don’t Shoot gesture after Michael Brown was killed, or the Miami Heat in their hoodies after Trayvon Martin was slain while buying skittles, LeBron James has also voiced his concerns, NBA players wearing “ I Can’t Breathe T-Shirts”, The Mizzou Football team taking a stand and Carmelo marching in the streets in New York. But what we the people need are athletes that use their platform to address these issues year round not just when something happens or it’s in the spotlight so they feel they have to address it or because it makes their character look good. Early athletes were activist for social change simply because they weren’t allowed to participate in sports, they were treated unfairly, they were looked down upon, they didn’t have the opportunities or the platforms that athletes today have. And I’m not saying that none of our sports heroes are speaking out in my opinion I just feel like they need to voice their opinions more.
Many of them maybe afraid to speak on such issues because it may put their career in danger or they may face ridicule from fans but a fan that can’t respect that you are first a member of the African American community really isn’t a fan. I would hope that these athletes aren’t too jaded by money and endorsement deals that they forget that they are a part of a population of people that are literally fighting for their lives in America. I pray that they haven’t become slaves to the system and that they use their voices to bring awareness to issues like this. Now this is my personal opinion and just like I can name black athletes that have taken a stand, I can name some that haven’t taken a stand and those are the ones I’m concerned about. On my end I’m doing what needs to be done but there is always a lot that can be done. This is a never ending battle and sadly it’s become our reality. The behind the scenes works is good; donate money, sit with grieving families, but until we use our voices we will be silenced. The Sports governing boards do little to support their African- American athletes during times like this, they’re often silent and until these athletes feel safe for speaking their minds they’ll never be able to use their platform effectively. We need them to teach our younger athletes how to stand up for themselves in times of oppression! Using the platform that is handed to them, I’m looking forward to more athletes standing in the paint for the very people that support them and if they can’t do that then we don’t need to support them anymore.
I look forward to creating for content to Pretty Hustlaz and I hope that you will continue to read and support this amazing platform, thank you for your time.