Editor’s note: To celebrate Martin Luther King Day, Jake Faunce writes about San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili blazing trails for the Hispanic community to honor Dr. King.
The March on Washington in 1963 was in essence about empowering people of color. Dr. Martin Luther King’s message was about people of color embracing themselves. Embracing yourself is a powerful first step on the road to success. It was a massive cultural event for our country and a signal of a major paradigm shift in America. Sometimes sports and cultural changing events intersect. Manu Ginobilli sits at the center of such a intersection.
Sometimes all a child needs is to actually see it themselves to believe it. They can see it in their head but until they actually see it come true it’s hard for them to believe in it. Someone can develop a defeatist attitude at a young age if they have no models of success they can identify with. Such is the dilemma with breaking any perceived glass ceilings or doubts about oneself. Ginobilli provides the best example possible with his play and his classiness for the Hispanic community.
To see him succeeding goes so far beyond just visualizing it. They see themselves in him. They see a Spanish speaking Hispanic dominating and setting a great example for any child. This goes beyond sport. He helped open up a segment of American culture that was thought of as not theirs.
Manu’s influence will bring about more Hispanic basketball bloggers, players, scouts, General Managers, analysts and owners. He is helping the assimilation process of America’s strongest new immigrant group by getting them interested in one of Americas most favorite pastimes. Basketball.
In an era of intense division on the immigration issue, America can use more avenues like basketball to bring communities together. Even the NBA launched Ene-Be-A to bring basketball closer to the Hispanic community throughout the globe. More Hispanics playing basketball can lead to less misunderstandings and less of the bumping of the cultural heads. A nation that has more in common with each other, is a more unified nation.
Manu is the first Hispanic Latin American superstar in the NBA. On this Martin Luther King Day, recognizing trail blazers like Ginobili is a tribute to the cause Dr. King ended up giving his life for. Manu holds a very unique position in our society, and he’s more then lived up to that responsibility.