Monday, March 1, 2021

Muhammad Ali’s Grandson Talks About Important Role Athletes Can Play in Protesting: ‘Silence is Complicity’ / LISTEN

Jacob Ali-Wertheimer - gettyimages-655018014-1024x1024
Jacob Ali-Wertheimer (Getty)

*Earlier today, SiriusXM host Joe Madison spoke with former NBA star Chris Weber and Jacob Ali-Wertheimer, grandson of Muhammad Ali, about the Black Lives Matter protests and the future of the NBA season.

“I don’t think there’s any room for there to be any silent voices in this movement,” Ali-Wertheimer said. “I think silence is complicity…. I think it’s important for athletes to see the power that they are able to have right now, the power of collective action, the huge shockwaves they created just by coming together and saying, ‘we’re not playing tonight.’”  He later added, “I think it’s an amazing stance, particularly by the Lakers and Clippers so far to vote to not finish this season. And especially as two huge contender teams who really felt they had a shot at the title for them to say that, I think really says a lot about where their heads are at. And about this moment, I think it’s a really powerful statement to make.”

Chris Weber also spoke with Madison about why it’s important for athletes to be part of the protests, saying he can’t watch one more video of a black man being shot. “We don’t make enough money to stop institutional racism…. we’re black men, we can’t get away from this.” He also gave praise to the older players who came before him and sacrificed, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and said he was “just so proud of these younger guys, because that’s not their narrative.”

Audio and transcripts are below. If used, please credit SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show” (weekdays from 6-10am ET on Urban View channel 126).

Jacob Ali-Wertheimer: “I Don’t Think There’s Any Room for There to Be Any Silent Voices”

JOE MADISON, HOST: Let me ask about the next step. This is the initial step. What do you think the next step should be by these athletes? Your opinion on that? And let me add, the next step – should we be hearing from the owners and the general managers?

JACOB ALI-WERTHEIMER: I think we should hear from everybody. I don’t think there’s any room for there to be any silent voices in this movement. You know, I think silence is complicity. I think silence is part of the issue. Silence has been what has allowed a lot of – silence on behalf of white America, particularly because I think African-Americans have always spoken up and always spoken out against injustice – silence on behalf of much of white America, I believe is why we are in the situation we’re in today. I’m still, after 400 years of discrimination against black people, on this land. And slaves were first brought here in 1619. I think that in terms of the next step, what’s really important is that we really lay this foundation to demand change moving forward. I think it’s important for athletes to see the power that they are able to have right now, the power of collective action, the huge shockwaves they created just by coming together and saying, “we’re not playing tonight” and understand that and build the groundwork so they can continue to come together like this moving forward. You know, I think this moment just shows how powerful we are when we come together as one and as a group, and build that space.

MADISON: Would you support the action taken by, I believe the Clippers and the Lakers, I think they have voted, I believe I’m correct, not to participate in the rest of the season?

ALI-WERTHEIMER: I completely support whatever stance the players take. I think it’s an amazing stance, particularly by the Lakers and Clippers so far to vote to not finish this season. And especially as two huge contender teams who really felt they had a shot at the title for them to say that, I think really says a lot about where their heads are at. And about this moment, I think it’s a really powerful statement to make. You know, ultimately I believe, I firmly believe, that the players have shown that they have the best interest of everything in mind. You know, they came into this bubble saying we don’t want to play if we’re going to detract from the issue, and I think they’re showing that they’re living up to their words. If the players all come together and decide to not play, I would completely support that decision. And I think it would be an incredibly powerful moment in our history and a moment in which we really demand change.

Jacob Ali-Wertheimer: Police Did Not See Jacob Blake “As Even Being Human”

Jacob Ali-Wertheimer, Muhammad Ali’s grandson, to Joe Madison: “I don’t want there to have to be another life, I don’t there to have to be another man injured, another man paralyzed, whatever it may be. You know, when I see someone shot in the back seven times, in proximity to his family, what I see isn’t just you’re saying, I as a white man am worth more than you as a Black man. What that says to me even more so is that white man did not see you, a Black man, as a man in the first place. He didn’t see you as even being human.”

Chris Webber: “We Don’t Make Enough Money to Stop Institutional Racism”


JOE MADISON, HOST: Well, boycott is about is systemic racism, the judicial system, and people may ask, well, what are you ballplayers –  I mean, why are you also concerned about this? You’ve got great lives. Come on. You know, you make a lot of money, you’re celebrities. Why be part of this effort, this protest?

CHRIS WEBER: Right? I don’t know what that means. Because everybody throws out the money that they make. We don’t make enough money to stop institutional racism. I really would love these guys to [sic]. So why? Why? Because when I walk into a jewelry store, if I don’t have my jersey, they don’t know who I am. Why? Because we’re black men, we can’t get away from this. You know, I think that’s what people don’t realize is that I don’t care who you have in the NBA, you cannot run from this because you have a family member that goes through it, that is still in the same place, even though we help. Like, it doesn’t mean you should move from where you are. You know, my mother taught in Detroit for over 30 years and she wouldn’t move – she didn’t take other opportunities, which I thought would help our family because she wanted to make sure that those in Mumford and those that in Detroit and places and kids that look like her, that somebody invested in them and all of those teachers.

And so this isn’t something that we just came up with. This is something that our parents are going through. Our grandparents are going through. This is something we talked about at the dinner table and Thanksgiving. This is something that when we see another – I was just saying the other day that…I can’t watch the videos anymore,  and I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself that I can’t watch the videos being shot anymore of young black people. Then I thought, you know what? This is why Emmett Till’s mother did this. Like shout out to her again, to have that thought that this is bigger than you. The death of your son is bigger than you. Me? I would have curled up in a corner and said, “no, don’t show my son. This is embarrassing. They did this.” I would’ve been bitter. I would’ve, I don’t know what I would have done. And she shared that picture with the world to show what people were going through. And if it wasn’t for technology now – nothing’s changed. It’s just technology is showing us what happened. And so we can’t, we can’t stand behind, be complicit. Our families are here. Our friends are here. And by the way, if we’re driving a car and they don’t know it’s us… I’ve been pulled over in Washington, D C. and the first question was, “what do you do to drive this car?”

MADISON: I mean, let’s understand something. So Chris Webber who, well, I remember this, gets pulled over by police. And the first question is, “well, how about the car?” I mean, and folks don’t…and again, unless there’s a camera there,  it’s always your word against their word. People don’t see it. And this is what’s different today. Isn’t it?

WEBER: It really is. And I just want to give a shout out to the young people, and I’m not blaming any generation, but I tell you what, when I came to the league, the same was you young people, “you got to get your hair different” then “why you wearing braids” or “wear a suit to the game.” You know, it was all about fitting in, assimilating them and all of this. And so some people didn’t have that word and the older people control the narrative, and you had to get in with them and “don’t mess up our money” And I’m just so proud of these younger guys, because that’s not their narrative. And I really do want to give a shout out to the Kareem’s and Doctor Johns Carlos because if they had social media then, if they had their own platform, I mean, they sacrificed for us to get to this point.

I was telling some young players the other day, and they didn’t know this, but so for Kareem to boycott the Olympics coming out of UCLA, you know, to this day, I believe that he’s not appreciated with coaching jobs and all the acclamation. We don’t need to say he’s the best in the world because of all of those things he sacrificed for it. That has nothing to do with basketball. He’s won more MVPs. He’s the all-time leading score. He’s won in high school, college and basketball. There is not one person on this earth that has a better resume than Kareem, but why don’t we celebrate it? Well, I believe we don’t celebrate it because of what he did for us, because of all the sacrifices. So I just really want to thank the older generation. I want to thank you. I wanna thank others that just do it. They just do it. They just do it because people are watching. People have watched people, people who’ve gone back to research what you’ve done, how to do it, your words. And so I just want to thank those that came before us, that didn’t have a choice or the luxury of not boycotting, but the ones that really put their lives on the line. I really want to thank those.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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