'Am I next? I am using my voice. Will you use yours?' The violent subordination of black people is a subject on which sports stars often speak openly.

‘Will I be next?’ Coco Gauff leads athlete protests

The latest to publish her protest was Coco Gauff, the new face of women’s tennis, heir apparent to Serena Williams — including in the fight against violence to the African-American community. “Am I next? I am using my voice. Will you use yours?” asked the young tennis player, dressed in a black hoodie, in a video posted on TikTok.

At Minneapolis City Hall, Stephen Jackson, a former NBA star and a childhood friend of George Floyd, commemorated the 46-year-old African-American suffocated to death by a policeman, who was arrested and is facing a 25-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter.

Floyd’s senseless death has turned the U.S. upside down. There are raging fires and demonstrations in the capital of the state of Minnesota and in many other American cities—like sticks of dynamite lit up and ready to explode.

The violent subordination of black people is a subject on which sports stars often speak openly, especially those who are African-Americans, who for years have been showing their anger and disgust at the recurring violence on social media, on stages or from a microphone.

Colin Kaepernick, a former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers (NFL) who has been without a team for more than three years because in 2016 he knelt down during the pre-match national anthem to protest police violence against black people—provoking the wrath of Trump, who unleashed an entire media campaign against him—decided to offer free legal assistance to protesters in Minneapolis through his Know Your Rights NGO.

LeBron James, the NBA star who grew up in a ghetto in Akron, Ohio, who has built schools at his own expense to provide an education for children from underprivileged families, in sharp contrast to Trump’s policies toward minorities, posted a collage on social media featuring with the image of Kaepernick kneeling on the field next to the one of the policeman who murdered Floyd in Minneapolis by kneeling on his neck, with the caption “This is why.”

And one of James’ former teammates at Miami Heat, Ray Allen, posted an Instagram story with the phrase “I can’t breathe,” said by Floyd before he died. The same phrase appeared six years ago on the pre-match T-shirts of several NBA athletes (including LeBron James) in protest at the murder of Eric Garner, another African-American suffocated to death by a police officer during his arrest.

And other basketball players, such as Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), have shared the words of actor Will Smith, according to whom racism in the U.S. is not worse than before: the only difference is that now it’s being filmed.

Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors (NBA), son of an American ambassador killed in Lebanon in the 1980s, taking part in the collective grief over Floyd’s murder, once again pointed the finger at Trump: “In 2017 Trump called kneeling NFL players who peacefully protested police brutality ‘sons of bitches.’ Last night he called Minneapolis protesters ‘thugs.’ This is why racists shouldn’t be allowed to be president.”

The outcry against racism has grown to such volume this time that the two great powers of the sporting goods industry, Nike and Adidas, also took a stand on Twitter.

“For once, Don’t Do It. Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America. Don’t turn your back on racism. Don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us. Don’t make any more excuses. Don’t think this doesn’t affect you. Don’t sit back and be silent. Don’t think you can’t be part of the change. Let’s all be part of the change,” was the message from Niked, which was also liked and shared by Adidas.

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