The conversation about social justice is transcending race, generations, and occupation. Many on the grassroots level of social justice and reform welcome the involvement of athletes and others in the limelight.
Dallas activist Changa Higgins was in the sea of people at the March on Washington Friday. He said he felt the need to go and be among people fighting for the same cause.
“It was just like a big festival to celebrate the fact that black lives matter,” said Higgins. “I knew it would be a lot of people like me who are frustrated or do a lot of work in their communities, particularly around social justice, or civil rights and policing reform.”
Social reform isn’t new to him. For years, his voice has been heard throughout the city of Dallas pushing for the accountability and oversight of police. But the shootings, the death and the trauma are exhausting.
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“It just doesn’t let up. And sometimes it feels dark, it feels like no hope,” he said. “Black and brown people and poor people bear the brunt of bad policies and bad policing.”
So, when professional athletes with global influence speak up on the same issues, he feels recharged.
“It’s like when things are at their darkest sometimes people you wouldn’t expect come forward and show you, you need to keep fighting, there is hope, we hear you and you need to keep going,” said Higgins.
He said it’s a reminder of how connected people are in the movement regardless of status.
“It doesn’t matter how much money you make, if you’re on TV, if you’re LeBron James or whoever, you are uncomfortable, and you are uncertain about the future right now looking at what’s going on in this country,’” said Higgins.
FC Dallas Soccer coach Luchi Gonzalez said it’s a learning process for his team which recently decided not to play a scheduled match against the Colorado Rapids in a show of solidarity.
“That was a really open moment, an honest moment with me, the staff leadership and club leadership, the players,” said Gonzalez. “Just listening, learning, understanding.”
He knows there will be critics of athletes who step over into the social justice arena. He’s prepared for that.
“There’s always the debate of whether athletes should just be paid to play and keep their mouths shut and show their talent,” said Gonzalez. “If they can show that platform and voice it and show it with their actions and be that positive example for the right values in this world, then I think that’s a positive thing and I support that 100%.”
Higgins applauds the actions of athletes and welcomes them to continue using their voices and influence.
“For black people in America we’re uncomfortable right now,” he said. “It’s a big statement to the rest of America to say, ‘you know what we can’t be playing games, and you’re not going to be comfortable while we’re uncomfortable and while we’re fighting for our lives.’”