We Ain’t Gonna Play Trump City

So, clearly a bunch of us do give a shit. I absolutely love that. I apologize for this delayed follow-up to my last piece — I’ve been fighting a bad cold for a week (I blame Trump) and have been thinking a lot about where we go from here.

Many of you have asked some great questions (about the filibuster, the Electoral College, the DNC, etc.) and my first instinct was to answer as many of those as possible. But I realized that’s like going over grandpa’s autopsy results — informative, to be sure, but that old fart won’t ever be getting up.

Friends are asking me what we can specifically do right now. Between combing medical supply websites for Ruth’s iron lung and ingesting a ludicrous amount of Sudafed, I’ve gotten very little sleep. But I have been thinking…

My first instinct was to suggest tangible ways to reconnect with our working class base. It’s practical, pragmatic and important, and I’ll talk about that more in a future post. But right now, I think we all need some inspiration. We need a BIG idea. It kept gnawing at me. Then I randomly glanced at my phone and landed on a line from an ESPN article. A light bulb went off:

“Aqaba… by land!”

Apologies. Lawrence of Arabia was on in the background and I got carried away.

A better movie reference might be: “The Things We Think And Do Not Say.”

Yes, I’m full-on-Jerry-Maguire-mission-statement-inspired right now!

The ESPN article was about Mike Evans, a wide receiver for Tampa Bay. Now, Mike is not a particularly political guy. He’s from Texas. Fairly soft-spoken. African-American. Super talented. This past Sunday, Mike, with no prior statement or seeking publicity, sits for the national anthem before the Bucs game against the Bears.

This was not part of the Kaepernick protest. No, Mike Evans sat as a protest against Donald Trump. Plain and simple. After the game, when asked, he explained quite succinctly that he isn’t a Republican or Democrat. This wasn’t about that. Evans looked at the reporter and just said, “but I know when something’s not right.”

That was the line my eyes landed on: I know when something is not right.

John Wooden once observed: sports doesn’t build character, it reveals character. Evans was talking about Trump’s campaign and the message it sent to him as a person of color. It was heartbreaking to listen to. Here was a proud American, who puts his body on the line for our entertainment each week, who didn’t feel welcome in his country anymore.

And then came the reaction. From Bucs fans. Even, sadly, from a few friends. How dare he! Cut that traitor! Go to Canada, loser! It was the same racially charged venom that spewed forth at Trump’s rallies. From the same Trump fanatics. Know your place. This is OUR country. And all I could feel was shame. For Mike Evans. For all of us. And it hits me again:

I know when something is not right.

We all do. That’s what is so vile about the people now moving into the White House — they intentionally fomented this bigotry and division. As I said previously, I don’t think all the people who voted for Trump are racists or misogynists. But you can’t possibly claim ignorance to all of Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric or the toxic bedfellows who endorsed him. If you were aware of it and still voted for him, then, yes, you are culpable for that hate. You don’t get to cherry-pick the parts of Trump that you like (NAFTA sucks!) but pretend the other parts don’t exist. There is no free pass — you supported an aggressively bigoted and divisive man.

Or maybe some voters convinced themselves it was all just campaign rhetoric that would disappear once he got into office. But now we see it was just the beginning: hate attacks. The KKK holding a celebratory Trump march. Trump surrogates talking about registry’s and internment camps. “But, Alex, I just saw Trump tell people on 60 Minutes to ‘stop it.’” Ha. Good one. Problem solved. These fanatics are emboldened. This will get worse.

It is as if they are floating the most outrageous ideas and appointments and waiting to see if there will be any pushback. If there isn’t, we are telling them they can get away with anything — that they have a submissive nation to control. It tells them that we are weak or apathetic or defeated. We are none of those things.

Yes, we MUST demand that Steve Bannon is pushed aside immediately, but at this point getting only him out would be like throwing a deck chair off the Titanic. Trump’s entire White House is infected with this alt-right, neo Nazi, white nationalist, toxic sentiment. We have to push back against it all. Now.

I know when something is not right.

Do people remember Sun City? Sun City is a resort in South Africa where famous singers and bands played for years while the country was still under apartheid. As furor began to build in the 1980’s over the absolute injustice of that policy, Stevie Van Zandt (of the E. Street band & The Sopranos) refused to play Sun City. It wasn’t right. He couldn’t look the other way. And he convinced other musicians to join him. They even made a cool album and hit song (look it up, millennials ;). Then, NO ONE played there. Total boycott. It was a small act of defiance by a badass, principled musician, but it helped build momentum for the larger cause. Multinational corporations started to pull their business from South Africa, the regime collapsed and apartheid ended.

Or look at what was accomplished in Indiana against its anti-LGBT law (signed by Vice Douche, Mike Pence). Athletes stood up. Entertainers stood up. Businesses stood up. It was going to cost Indiana jobs and standing and its reputation. And they caved. Or North Carolina. The NBA stood up. The NCAA stood up. Musicians cancelled concerts. The law has yet to be changed, but everyone rightly pushed back against intolerance.

It made me wonder: how does any decent person now go to Trump’s White House and shake his hand? Can you picture Ali or Jim Brown shaking the hand of the man who is endorsed by the KKK or questions the legitimacy of our first African-American President? Can you see Billie Jean King accepting kudos from a man who demeans and assaults women? How about the Women’s World Cup team on stage with a man who has said and done what Trump has? Would Greg Louganis be in the same room with anyone from the Trump team? I can’t fathom how the Chicago Cubs will go to the White House and give this bigot a championship jersey and pose for pictures like none of this happened.

We should be ashamed of ourselves if we treat any of this as normal.

Trump was given LOTS of money by Houston Texans owner, Bob McNair, and by Woody Johnson, owner of the NY Jets. How can any decent person now pay money to support those teams knowing where that money went? Mike Evans’ boss, Edward Glazer, owner of the Bucs supported Trump, as did Rex Ryan, the coach of the Buffalo Bills. How do we, as fans, reconcile those things? How do those players on those teams?

I was incredibly moved by the words of Greg Popovich and Stan Van Gundy this week, who are both sickened by what happened because they know Trump’s campaign openly played on our very worst instincts. Popovich concluded, “we live in a country that ignored all those values that we would hold our kids accountable for.” Each regretted that they hadn’t said enough sooner. And it haunts them. It haunts me.

People may not know the story about how the University of Alabama football team finally became integrated. It’s legendary coach, Bear Bryant, wanted to integrate the team but was vehemently denied by the racist governor, George Wallace. So, Bryant invited the integrated USC football team down to Alabama in 1970 and Alabama got CRUSHED. After the game, Bryant was seen with a smile on his face because he knew this was the turning point: Alabamans were stubborn as hell to change… until they saw it affect their football team.

Sports matter in an outsized way in America. We have example after example of athletes and performers in our society standing up for the right thing and driving change. A few NBA teams have already stepped up and announced they won’t be staying in Trump hotels. That’s a great start. But we need more. For everyone looking for a first, bold step, here is an idea:

We treat Trump’s White House like Sun City.

No one goes. No athletes. No championship teams. No performers. No musicians. No celebrities. ALL invitations are rejected. No White House Correspondents Dinners. No Inauguration Balls. No State dinners. No singing Christmas carols with the Trump kids. Nothing. Full boycott. No exceptions. Donald Trump does not get to enjoy the perks of this job. Period.

For the rest of us: we don’t support anyone or any company that enabled Trump. Like those NBA teams, we boycott all Trump businesses. We turn off CNN. We don’t buy Ivanka’s bracelets. This amazing GrabYourWallet campaign will tell you how (@shannoncoulter). We don’t spend money to support the teams of his owners — we don’t buy their merchandise or tickets to their games. We leave their stadiums empty and we reject the advertisers who support them. And we turn away from anyone who violates this ban, no matter how much we might like their work. Any product, team or company associated with Trump is one that tacitly funds bigotry and intolerance.

We vote with our wallets.

We marshal these forces all the time when someone does something slightly offensive or says even one naughty word on TV. Let me ask you: what is more contrary to our values and who we aspire to be than what Trump did to get elected? This is bigger than Indiana. Bigger than North Carolina. Trump’s White House represents intolerance writ large. This is our Sun City.

Let me be clear, I am not saying Trump isn’t the President. He is. I’ll comment on the whole Electoral College/popular vote miasma separately. I am not whining about Trump winning. We lost. Period. And there are lessons to be learned from that going forward. This is not about overturning the results or overthrowing Trump. It is not about politics or some petty reaction. This is solely about what is right. This is about the example we set moving forward as people who know right from wrong.

Regardless of who you voted for, it is time to speak up. It is time to act. We have new information. Your opinion of Trump is allowed to change. Simply because you voted for him does not mean that you still have to support him. If what he has done this week repulses you, too, then join us.

I will not stand next to President Trump. I will not normalize him or let him enjoy this job. I will not pretend he didn’t do or say these things. And I will not put one dollar in the pocket of ANYONE who supported Donald Trump. I encourage all of you to do the same. This is the first of many steps. Spread the word. Let your favorite athlete or performer know. We stand together.

I know when something is not right. So do you.

#boycottTrumpHouse #TrumpCity #GrabYourWallet