The month of February is significant to me. I was born on February 14th (Valentin’s Day). The shortest month of the year is also known as «Loveuary» to accent the romance-filled month. Still, most importantly, the country pauses to celebrate: «Black History Month,» hosting events and activities to showcase the talented creativity, social, cultural, political, educational achievements of Black people, and toasting those who have made a socio-economic climb, which is a small percentage of the Black population.
Brian Flores, a black man of Honduran descent who was raised in Brooklyn, recent tactics to protest the discriminatory hiring practices of the National Football League (NFL) kicked off Black History Month 2022 by filing a lawsuit against the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, and Denver Broncos football organizations, and a class-action lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL) and all its teams. The Afro-Honduran is going after them for his experienced racial discrimination in hiring.
As a community, a people long denied inclusion and equality in a country that, for the most part, was built on the forced, free slave labor of Black people, Black and Latino people owe a debt of gratitude to those pioneering ancestors who fought back against racism and all its practices manifestation in professional sports.
Brian’s courageous actions made headlines in the national media, and yes, a Latino is protesting the discriminatory hiring practices of the National Football League, of which 70% of the players are Black, and Miami, the Dolphins home base, boasts a 50% Hispanic population.
We’ve experienced this before in the world of professional sports: Roberto Clemente, the great humanitarian, all-star, Afro-Puerto Rican Pittsburg Pirates baseball player, protested Jim Crow segregation policies, which required Black players to wait on the bus for their White teammates to bring them back food because many White-owned restaurants in the South barred Blacks from in-person dining. Clemente courageously protested this discriminatory practice and even threatened to fight any Black player who accepted the food. His protest resulted in the Pittsburg Pirates providing a station wagon for the Black players, so they could eat at restaurants that allowed them to dine in.
Flores joins a class of sports figures like Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who protested racism in sports by raising their black-gloved fists during the playing of the United States National Anthem during the medal ceremony in the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico, in an effort to bring attention to the racism in America and the world.
As defiant as Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers of all time when he protested the Vietnam War, Coach Flores is taking a big risk as Colin Kaepernick has done to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Flores’ risks are as dangerous as those taken by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, current and past Black men, and women, who challenged discriminatory practices in the United States.
Brian Flores is giving us a sense of community that is dependent on future generations of people of color. Our youth learn from prominent Black and Latino role models of the past and present.
For Black people, like the ones we will be celebrating this Black History Month, it is important to learn what worked and what didn’t work in obtaining justice and equality in a nation where colored minorities are meant to feel under-qualified to carry out the responsibilities that high-level positions require.