I’m not particularly fond of social media. How many goddamn selfies can you narcissists take? However, I’m acutely aware that a strong following can be leveraged into lucrative branding opportunities. It’s also a fantastic way to connect with your fans and audience on a deeper level or amplify important news and information.
LeBron James has mastered the art of using Twitter to accomplish all of the above, and on Wednesday, he took to Twitter to voice his disgust at yet another trigger-happy officer of the law gunning down a Black child. This time it was 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant of Columbus, Ohio, who police opened fire upon within 9 to 10 seconds of arriving on the scene.
In response to the news, James posted a picture of officer Nicholas Reardon, along with the caption, “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY”—an obvious reference to Derek Chauvin being found guilty of the three counts he was charged with in relation to the murder of George Floyd.
It wasn’t exactly well-received by those of us who don’t season chicken properly, kiss dogs in the mouth, or prefer police officers not to be held accountable for being racist serial killers. So believing his message was being misconstrued, the four-time NBA champion deleted his tweet. Sadly, it was a bit too late, because We Don’t Use Washcloths Twitter has been unleashing world-class temper tantrums ever since:
The National Fraternal Order of Police got in on the action, too:
Even Jason Whitlock cut his Klan rally short in order to pile on King James:
Ted Cruz, who was last seen abandoning his constituents in the middle of a massive power outage, took his grievances with James to Fox News.
“The left consistently goes after, attacks, and demonizes police officers,” Cruz said on Fox News Primetime. “Often before the facts are known, often before there is any evidence of what happened. But their immediate reaction, whenever there is an incident, is that police officers are in the wrong. And in this instance, ‘you’re next’ could certainly be interpreted by some, even, as a call for violence. I think it was a grossly irresponsible message for LeBron James to send out.”
Ummmmm, the only people who mistook LeBron’s call for accountability—in the immediate aftermath of Chauvin’s convictions—for a call for violence are the same people who...
Yeah. That part.
James, hip to the ensuing bullshit that his initial tweet-and-delete created, explained his decision to remove it soon afterward.
“I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police,” he tweeted. “I took the tweet down because it’s being used to create more hate. This isn’t about one officer. It’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.”
Not that James needed to though, since Black Twitter already had his back.
LeBron, we know you weren’t inciting violence against police. The difference is that your detractors do, too; they just have a narrative to push and derailment provides a convenient mechanism to do so. Thankfully, we’ve been fighting this uphill battle against systemic racism our entire lives, so we’re more than qualified for whatever bullshit they fling our way.
This always reminds me why I stay the hell away from social media.