The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Culture Corner—Raise a Fist, Take a Knee & Don’t Look Up

Jan 3, 2022

Book: Raise a Fist, Take a Knee: Race and the Illusion of Progress in Modern Sports, by John Feinstein

This book looks at racism in college and professional sports. While there are some black athletes and coaches who may be highly paid and receive much acclaim, even they can’t escape the racism of this society. The author talks to black sports figures, including Patrick Mahomes, John Thompson, Dave Stewart, Nolan Richardson, Mike Tomlin, and Doug Williams.

The book discusses how black quarterbacks in football are still treated differently than white quarterbacks and how and why there are so few black coaches, even in sports like football and basketball, where black athletes make up the majority of players on the teams. And every athlete and coach interviewed talks about being stopped by the police for “Driving While Black” because they drive a nicer car. As Doug Williams says in the book, “None of us are trying to make race an issue. Race is an issue."

Film: Don’t Look Up, 2021, a film just released on Netflix.

The film poses a dramatic scenario: a Michigan State astronomy student and her professor (Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio) discover a comet that is hurtling toward earth and, when it hits, will destroy all life on our planet. The star-studded cast (Ariana Grande, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, etc.) raise many issues: the crisis of life on this planet, a metaphor for climate change; what we pay attention to; how we talk to each other; and how the politicians and even the scientists can serve corporate profit interests. Worth seeing!