June 8, 2020

Wilbon wakes up ‘every day angry as a black man’

Kris Rhim

“I wake up every day angry as a black man,” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said Tuesday to the 28th class of the Sports Journalism Institute. Wilbon gave us career tips, which were excellent and helpful, but this sentence stood out to me the most. Days before SJI was set to begin, George Floyd was killed in Minnesota by former police officer Derek Chauvin, who leaned into Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. I felt a burning in my chest and discomfort in my stomach as I watched Floyd slowly being killed. I’m angry as I scroll through social media to see people saying things such as, “George Floyd was killed, but all police aren’t bad,” or “All lives matter.” My mom cries as she watches CNN reporter Omar Jimenez getting arrested live on-air, then, gives me “the talk” about how to operate with the police again. I listen to the tools that Mr. Carter, Ms. Sandy, Mr. Lee, Mr. Squires, and many others are giving the class over the sounds of police sirens and helicopters outside my apartment each day in Philadelphia. During a program that could jump-start my career, I’m struggling to stay focused. I wonder how much sports matters right now; I think I should be elsewhere, should be doing more. As a black man, I am angry each day, but not like this. I related to Wilbon’s quote so much because this is the most furious I have been in my life.

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