“The term “inflection point” became so common this summer that it almost became a cliche in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police and protests across the country demanding justice, police reform and recognition of the lived reality of Black and brown Americans.T

It seemed especially common in professional sports as players from the NBA, WNBA and Major League Baseball in particular took stands — and knees — and as baseball faced its own longstanding cultural rifts and blind spots from its clubhouses to its front offices.

Inflection point? How could we know, much less trust, that this moment — however powerful and full-throated — might have staying power when so many of the conversations today seemed to echo from past generations that found their own woke moments during the 1960s Civil Rights movement or the aftermath of Rodney King’s videotaped beating by police and subsequent acquittals in the 1990s.

Those past “awakenings” did little for Floyd or Breonna Taylor or Botham Jean or Ahmoud Arbery.

But Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward said he felt optimism this summer for real change. And as he stood before a gleaming, black tractor-trailer filled with baseball equipment, alongside a “popup pantry” of boxed food and COVID-19 safety essentials, he seemed to be delivering on his own faith.

“There’s still a lot of optimism there for me,” Heyward said, “because we’re pulling together and using our resources and using our networking to do things like this.””

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