By Aaron Allen
On Monday, leaders in the Black community gather at the corner of 23rd and Jackson, in front of the demolished Promenade 23rd to protest Billionaire Paul Allen’s recent donation to Republican candidates and to advocate for economic equality between professional sports and the Black community.
A couple of weeks ago Paul Allen, reportedly, became a major donor of the Republican Party and the Trump agenda and citizens of the community have taken heed. Allen gave campaign donations of up to $100,000 dollars to various Republican candidates to the dismay of some community advocates.
Men like Eddie Rye, Jr., former football greats such as James Hastings and Nesby Glasgow, the western region Vice President of NFL Players Association, and Fred Anderson, a Super Bowl Champion with the Pittsburg Steelers, all gathered in unity to address the issues that face the Black community.
“I have been out here protesting the economic injustices that have occurred in professional sports and to add insult to injury the owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers, Paul Allen donated $100,000 to the republican party so they can maintain control of the House of Representatives,” said Rye.
“So, what that really says to the Black players is Paul Allen is taking away or supporting people who are taking away your voting rights and your civil rights,” Rye continued.
Black professional sports figures like Colin Kaepernick and Lebron James have been engaged in finding ways to bring about economic and civil equality to the Black community through their activism. Rye says that it is time to take that activism to another level – which mean leveraging the economic pie in pro sports to benefit our community.
Rye says that pro sports makes a lot of money on the backs of Black athletes, who make up to 75 percent of the athletes involved in pro sports, yet the Black community doesn’t benefit economically from this disparity.
According to Rye, “ESPN, CBS, were biding over 1 billion dollars to have the broadcast right of NFL games. So out of all the money being generated and the NFL being 70 percent Black, none of that money is coming back to the Black community.”
To address this issues, retired NFL players have put their support behind the NFL/Black Community Revenue Sharing Program presented to the NFL that would require NFL teams to deposit 10 percent of their annual revenue and 1/3 of the NFL Players Pension Fund be deposited into Black owned Banks.
“The only way the Black community is going to succeed is through economic empowerment,” explains James Hastings, a retired 14-year veteran of the NFL.
“When there is opportunity to financially protest that’s the way to protest, often times we can get caught up in the social media formats,” said Hastings. “But, I think the only thing that we really stand to gain or to grab anyone’s attention, is going to be through the almighty dollar. Being the number one consumers, as we often are in the African American community, we must protest financially.”
On that iconic Seattle corner of 23rd and Jackson across from Allen’s new construction project these leaders rallied community activist and citizens alike to bring about the economic change in the distribution of wealth generated by our people.
Men like Spencer Haywood a Seattle Supersonic legend, Lebron James, Al Sharpton, the Black Caucus, Mark Morial of the National Urban League, Gary Johnson of the NAACP, legislative leaders such Kamala Harris have all rendered their support in these efforts to level the playing field, and Rye says that they will not let up until Black folks benefit from the economic windfall that they help create.
This article originally appeared first in The Seattle Medium.