Muhammad Ali just showed me how far our nation has back-slided on racial issues. Of course, I’ve read the articles on how our schools are now more racially segregated than in the 1970s. But stark *anecdotal* evidence of this cultural backslide came in the form of ESPN’s “30 For 30″ documentary entitled “The Real Rocky.”
Although the story of beleaguered, aging, white, blue-collar boxer Chuck Wepner, and his legal battles with Sylvester Stallone over the movie “Rocky,” are interesting, the most compelling part was the footage of Ali.
I hadn’t realized how incredibly vocally political Ali was. I thought he was more of a LeBron James-style self-aggrandizer used as a symbol of the black power movement. And he was certainly was that. He had the same swagger and dominance that James has now. But imagine if LeBron was a vocal, Muslim, black power firebrand who used the public microphone available to him through his sports achievements to raise issues surrounding disparate racial treatment and outcomes. That is what Ali was.
Yet Ali was a *cultural hero* in his time. Now imagine our hypothetical LeBron, after changing his name to Muhammad LeBron, doing this today. Even though we are *every bit as segregated* as we were two generations ago, and black families still have gaping, statistically significant worse outcomes than whites in many areas of life, if Muhammad LeBron spoke of this, what would Fox News have to say? What would the public at large have to say?