Opinion: Real cancel culture isn't moving MLB All-Star Game, it's the erasing of Black lives

After Major League Baseball's All-Star Game was pulled out of Georgia because of the state's voter suppression efforts, the governor, Brian Kemp, declared it was an act of cancel culture.

“Cancel culture and partisan actions are coming for your business,” he warned. “They’re coming for your game or your event in your hometown.”

Over a week later, and hundreds of miles away, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers, one of the most thoughtful people in all of sports, was asked about the killing of Daunte Wright, who was shot dead by a police officer in a Minneapolis suburb.

“I think we have to stop saying it’s frustrating for all Black Americans,” Rivers said before the 76ers played the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night. “I think we should be frustrated for all Americans. I don’t know if it was a mistake or not. I saw the body cam video like everyone else, but I know that frustration is a real thing for everybody and for us.”

More: Minnesota's MLB, NBA, NHL games postponed in wake of Daunte Wright shooting

More: Brennan: Sports will always be intertwined with politics and social justice

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers looks on before the game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center.
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers looks on before the game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center.

“You keep hearing this cancel culture stuff, but we’re canceling Black lives,” Rivers said. “To me, that’s a little more important in my opinion, and it just keeps happening. We keep making mistakes by killing Black people. I don’t want to get to race, but it’s there. I think we all have weaknesses, and we all need to confront them and find out how we can make this place a better world and a better country. To me improving our culture as a society is really important. Not canceling it, but improving it.”

That phrase, cancel culture, as it's often used, has long been a joke. Real cancel culture is the canceling of Black lives.

It's all so old and tired. It's exhausting and scary and maddening. Every day a new video, every day a new story of police strangulating, shooting, macing, or abusing unarmed Black citizens for often doing nothing but existing.

These Black men, women and children victims were once living people with families and futures; they dreamed, they laughed, they went to work. They hugged their kids only to end up dead because of selling cigarettes or having an air freshener or sleeping in their own bed.

Serve your country? Wear the uniform? Doesn't matter.

Obey the orders of the officer? Show you're not a threat? Doesn't matter.

Many times the police who killed these innocent Black people go on leave as their victims go to the grave.

The cycle keeps going, like some type of hellish Groundhog Day.

Blacks protest and are told to leave the country. Blacks say our lives matter and we're told, no, blue lives do, or all lives do. Seditionists stormed the beacon of democracy, then walked home like they'd gone to a ballgame. Meanwhile, peaceful protestors angry over the killing of George Floyd are tear-gassed.

Blacks protest. Blacks pray. Blacks plead to respect our humanity. Blacks take a peaceful knee before a football game. Blacks cry.


The killing of Wright is particularly tragic because it happened during the trial of Derek Chauvin just a short distance away. This is such a common thing now that in the same area where one murder trial for the killing of a Black man proceeds, another killing happens.

This is what Rivers is talking about when he says the real cancel culture is the eradication of Black lives. His words represent the thoughts and exasperations of many Black people. Everyone is just tired.

“It just makes you sick to your stomach,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “How many times does it have to happen? As sick to our stomachs as we might feel, that individual is dead. He’s dead. And his family is grieving, and his friends are grieving. And we just keep moving on as if nothing is happening.”

Rivers spoke about Germany, and its tragic history, and what he said makes sense.

“You don’t see swastikas,” Rivers said. “You don’t see statues of Nazi soldiers all around, and they don’t say that that’s canceled culture. They say that’s improving their culture. I think we need to think more in those terms.”

Cancel culture is fake, except when it comes to the canceling of Black lives.

Unfortunately, sadly, and tragically that's real.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Moving MLB All-Star Game isn't cancel culture; erasing Black lives is