St. Thomas Law Review


Daniela Tenjido

First Page


Document Type



Most popular sports in the U.S. today are dominated by Black athletes. The professional Black athlete today has opportunities that the majority of his nonathlete counterparts do not. Judging objectively, professional Black athletes “made it.” Lucrative lifestyles and international fame, however, has come at a high price in recent years. In the era of the Black Lives Matter movement, a domestic race war, and the increase unleashing of violence against the Black community by police, Black athletes are caught in the middle. Athletes are natural born leaders. This has led to the strong convictions and rightful protest by many of them during times of turmoil. This Note aims to highlight two in particular—Muhammad Ali and Colin Kaepernick. Part I offers a brief history of African Americans in sports and the impact of professional sports on American society. This then sets the stage for why Black professional athletes are perhaps the perfect class of individuals to highlight and discuss racial subordination in the U.S. In part II this Note then uses the stories of Muhammad Ali, Colin Kaepernick, and others alike, to debunk three main ideas in Part III. First, it aims to highlight why we do not live in a post-racial America. Second, it criticizes a belief that suffering by racial minorities comes exclusively as a result of class rather than race. This is where the racial subordination of class privileged minorities plays a role in highlighting the other, non-economic, ways in which class privileged minorities continue to experience “otherness.” It does this in the context of Black professional athletes. Lastly, it uses the Black professional athlete to highlight other forms of racial subordination endured by class privileged African Americans and people of color that are non-economic.