The Rev. Jesse Jackson deserves plaudits for his conciliatory work toward equality on the front lines of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and ’70s.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson of 2020 would do well to remember that perspective.
On Wednesday, Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron announced a Jefferson County grand jury would bring no charges specifically related to the death of Breonna Taylor against the police officers who fired upon Taylor and her boyfriend in her home in March.
A day later, Jackson called upon professional basketball and football athletes to facilitate a boycott of the programs in those sports at the commonwealth’s two most prominent universities, in the interest of punching back.
“The players in the WNBA, NFL and NBA must discourage high-profile athletes, basketball and football players, from going to the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville,” Jackson tweeted on Wednesday afternoon. “We must make economic life in (Kentucky) inconvenient. This tactic has always worked for oppressed people.”
It could be said economic life is already inconvenient or worse for an outsized percentage of Kentuckians of all races and creeds, and it could be questioned whether the next Anthony Davis choosing Duke instead of Kentucky would have a tangible effect on the commonwealth’s economy.
What is certain is that punitive action engineered by people who don’t live here and don’t have a stake in things improving will not fix the problems in our society — at the local, state and national levels.
Let us be clear: our hearts are heavy for everyone directly related to Taylor’s case.
We hurt for the family, friends and supporters of Taylor, who do not feel justice was served with no charges brought in her death. We hurt for members of the African American community who worry the same fate may await them if horrific circumstances align. And we hurt for the two Louisville police officers shot in the unrest in Louisville in the aftermath of Cameron’s announcement.
But we encourage meaningful and practical action, not symbolic and performative.
Content with the status quo? Vote to protect it.
Or protest (peacefully). Or find a candidate who stands for what you stand for and support them by whatever means you choose.
Let’s find ways available to us to effect change, not merely seek to make a splash.