Commentary

It’s one thing to take a knee and quite another to get involved with social justice

Athletes, it’s your right to take a knee to protest whatever you want. Go ahead, have at it.

But if you think for a minute that taking a knee is a substitute for action, it’s not. And there is at least one fan who wants you to know.

He wants you to know that taking a knee is equal to talk. They’re both cheap.

So you take a knee for three minutes, then you play your game, collect your big check and go home and watch yourself on TV. That’s it? That’s all you got?

How about this? How about you make a real commitment, maybe something like marching against injustice, discrimination and racism? How about making a big donation to some organization fighting for the causes?

How about doing some free public service announcements? How about standing in front of Target, circulating petitions to be forwarded to Washington, D.C.?

How about asking your sponsors to do any of these? Oh, yeah, I forgot: Getting too controversial by getting your sponsors involved could void your fat contracts.

How about doing anything beyond just taking a knee for three minutes?

What’s that? You say that taking a knee is raising awareness? Yes, but you got our attention the first time. Every time after that is just cheap. There is no real sacrifice, particularly when all of your colleagues are doing it too.

OK, you’re taking a knee. We get it. We got it two weeks ago. Now, it’s just old and wimpy. Now, it’s time for Phase 2.

Here’s what Phase 2 looks like:

Area residents Erica Roberts, Laurie Smith, Sandy Asper, Ashley Anderson, Martie O’Meara, John Caldecott, Wendy Leece, Jennifer Brooks and a growing cadre of concerned parents, taxpayers and activists have been openly protesting the injustice perpetuated by the Newport-Mesa Unified School District for decades.

Since its founding 51 years ago, there has never been a Latino member of the school board, despite the fact that one of the two cities served, Costa Mesa, has had a significant Latino population for as long. Today, about 34% of the city’s residents are Latino.

Those people I just mentioned are holding regular meetings with agendas and everything. They attend all public school district meetings and speak up.

They build awareness by regularly posting news, opinions and updates on social media outlets. They’re alerting the Spanish-speaking population to another injustice: Redrawing trustee boundaries to preserve the status quo. One of those people, Asper, has produced a series of videos defining the cause.

And they’re just getting started. Many of them don’t even live in Costa Mesa, but just like you, they’re fed up.

Go ahead and take your knee. It’s your right, and no one can tell you you can’t. But when you do, just remember these people in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa who are way ahead of you and committed to their causes each day, not just once a week for three minutes.

They’re not taking a knee, they’re taking action.

STEVE SMITH lives in Costa Mesa.

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