While some celebrities catch flack for saying the wrong thing concerning police brutality, other stars get labeled sellouts for their silence. Laila Ali attempted to clarify why she shouldn’t be placed in the latter category during an appearance on Huffington Post Live, but when the famed boxer proclaimed “all lives matter” in the same breath, she quickly found herself in the former box.
“By me not posting, it doesn’t mean that black lives don’t matter,” she told host Jacques Morel of her aversion to hashtag activism. “To me, it’s obvious that black lives matter. And then… I’m like, what is posting going to do? What is speaking out going to do?”
We imagine her father, Muhammad Ali, might have an answer for that question, considering he was as revered for his skills in the ring as he was his civil rights activism. But we wonder whether Ali would care as she explained she also doesn’t speak out on the subject of police brutality because “I don’t ever like to make people feel separate.” In other words, she’s worried about her diverse fan base.
“Yes, black lives matter. Yes, white lives matter, asian lives matter. All lives matter,” she said. “And that’s kind of what my focus is. But it’s hard because, you know, you’ve got sponsors and you’ve got this and you’ve got that. And you don’t want to step on anybody’s toes. And you’re trying to be politically correct, but at the same time trying to uplift your people.”
And then to make matters worse, Ali suggested the black community spend more time getting themselves together than worrying about matters of law enforcement.
“I would think about what can I do as a family to take responsibility for our actions,” she said. “So, I think as black people, we have to do the things that we can do to make a change within our own community within ourselves first and then let the trickle effect happen.”
Is it disrespectful to think somewhere her father is turning over in his grave? It shouldn’t be surprising anymore when a celebrity, disconnected from the peril many African Americans face on the streets, makes remarks like this, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. It’s frustrating to watch black men and women with influence spread propaganda messages suggesting black people don’t care about what goes on in our communities unless the subject is police brutality. We care about all violence in our communities and there is plenty of evidence to back that up — speaking out on police shootings is an extension of that concern. And why should it be that we’re the only ones who have to take responsibility for our actions? Law enforcement needs to do the same and its because they’ve yet been made to that many of us are speaking out so loudly. And when people excuse their behavior by pointing the finger back at the black community and all of our wrongdoings, we end up that much further from justice. I hope Ali, the mother of an 8-year-old son and 11-year-old twin stepsons never finds herself on the wrong side of justice, being told to better her household first and let the results trickle down.