Jovan Miller, is one of Major League Lacrosse’s brightest stars. He’s a Syracuse graduate and former All-American. Unfortunately, the Charlotte Hounds standout is not making headlines for his impressive play on the field, but for the powerful stance he’s taken off of it.
Miller noticed on twitter followers using the hash tag #ninjaplease. After researching online he found that big Major League Lacrosse sponsor and equipment provider Warrior Sports was using the phrase, which is a slang for n-word please, as an advertising campaign. Here’s what Miller had to say in response as reported by the Charlotte Observer:
“Honestly, it was offensive. I didn’t feel like there was necessarily malice behind it, but I felt like they knew they could get away with it. Warrior is a company that prides itself on being ‘edgy’ but this is too far,” said Miller.
“We have tried to talk to them but they haven’t responded. It makes me feel like they don’t care. I’d love to talk to the marketing guy and the people who OK’d it,” Miller said.
“This doesn’t just affect me. I’m not just speaking for myself. I’m speaking for every black man or black girl who has ever picked up a lacrosse stick,” Miller said. “As of now, I won’t be playing. I won’t be playing if it means I have to wear the uniform.”
In protest Miller began giving away his Warrior gear via Twitter.
My #NinjaPlease giveaway has now begin, I'm giving away every piece of their equipment. Tweet me if you want it,I won't wear their products!
— Jovan Miller (@JoviNation23) November 5, 2012
Yesterday, after five days, Warrior Sports finally reached out to Miller leaving a voicemail, and issued a response to the boycott via NBC Charlotte:
“We are not using it anymore and we do apologize if it was taken the wrong way,” said Warrior Sports Chief Marketing Officer Dave Dixon in a phone call to NBC Charlotte, “If we had thought it was going to be offensive, we wouldn’t have done it. We apologized, we pulled it from the site and we are moving on,” said Dixon.
The only question that remains is whether Miller will continue to play and wear the Warrior Sports manufactured uniform. When asked about his future playing this is what he said:
“I can’t really answer now. Obviously I want to play until my body can’t play anymore, but I also want my heart to be in my play.”
Lacrosse, as reported by Yahoo is America’s fastest growing sport, but it is also a sport that is usually associated with privileged white prep school kids in the North East. I know it hasn’t been easy for Miller, likely having to fight stereotypes from both races. As one of only 3 blacks in Major League Lacrosse it was important for him in this case to set the standard for what is acceptable and what isn‘t, and this WAS NOT. I commend him for being strong in his convictions, sticking up for his beliefs, and ultimately winning this battle when Warrior Sports decided to discontinue the campaign. But, we all must remember that fighting injustice is a war made up of many battles like these, and we must ALWAYS have the courage to stick up for what is right, because as the famous quote goes…”If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”