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This past week, NBA star Ja Morant was seen brandishing a weapon on social media, sigh again, and was subsequently suspended by the NBA for doing so. He was also lambasted online by Kwame Brown for being stupid enough to show his weapon on his friend’s Instagram.
Kwame made some salient points about the dangers of appearing on camera with a firearm, but this is also the same Kwame Brown who famously defended Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who crossed state lines to patrol people who were protesting, shot three of them, all the while being in illegal possession of a firearm. What about Kyle Rittenhouse was self-defense that was not the same as preemptive self-defense for Ja Morant? Especially when no one was actually shot when Ja Morant was holding his gun.
Showing a gun on social media may not have been the smartest decision, but there are pictures of entire white families holding rifles while wearing their plaid matching Christmas outfits, and no one seems to think that is a problem. The narrative around gun ownership juxtaposed with the racial divide is that when white people are gun owners, they are protecting themselves. When Black people are gun owners, they are inevitably going to engage in some sort of criminal activity. This narrative is not only harmful on social media but is actively played out in real-time, with dangerous consequences. Philando Castile was a legal gun owner and was still shot in cold blood by the police officer after informing him that he was not only carrying a weapon but repeated that he had no intention to draw it. Philando was still murdered, and the officer was still acquitted.
The NRA, who would have normally cried foul for the violation of the rights of a white gun owner, was noticeably silent, even when called to the carpet. The governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, had an entire campaign ad with him holding a rifle with the implication that he was somehow protecting the border from “illegals.”
Sir, the borders of Georgia are Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and a damn ocean, and none of those states even border Mexico.
Clearly, a big, tall man with a gun was appealing enough for voters, thanks in part to gerrymandering, for Brian to pull off a win, but I am not sure a Black man running for office would receive the same type of support or would have as little pushback as Governor Kemp for holding a weapon in his ad.
In a country where white Conservatives scream so loudly about the second amendment, they also have no problem with thinking that every Black man with a gun is a thug. Black gun ownership should be just as respected as white gun ownership; if we are, in fact, going to be a nation of gun owners, which I also do not think is the greatest idea. Were Ja Morant’s decisions the smartest? No, and while no one was harmed by his actions, save himself, he was still suspended.
The view is that he somehow still wants to be a thug despite being worth hundreds of millions of dollars. There could be no space for him to be simply a gun enthusiast with more access than most, maybe if he wore Christmas plaid instead of jersey…