Black lacrosse player boycotting over racially charged slogan

Black lacrosse player boycotting over racially charged slogan

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by DIANNE GALLAGHER / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @DianneG

WCNC.com

Posted on November 9, 2012 at 8:48 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 9 at 9:20 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jovan Miller is one of the most well-liked and recognizable professional lacrosse players. The Syracuse graduate and former All-American currently plays for the Charlotte Hounds, but his future could be in jeopardy.

"If I won't wear the uniform, obviously I can't play," said Miller.

Miller said it all started a few weeks ago when he began noticing some of his Twitter followers using the hashtag "#NinjaPlease."

"It kind of alarmed me at first," admitted Miller. "The actual meaning behind 'Ninja Please' is the 'N-word Please.' They put ninja in it to kind of disguise it."

UrbanDictionary.com has several entries for the phrase, all of which confirm Miller's interpretation of "Ninja Please."

After searching online, Miller discovered "#NinjaPlease" was an advertising campaign from Major League Lacrosse sponsor Warrior Sports. Warrior Sports is one of MLL's main investors and makes the jerseys, among other gear, worn in games.

"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.

MLL had shared the campaign on Facebook and retweeted it on Twitter.

"As far as Major League Lacrosse is concerned, I do believe they were just ignorant to what the phrase was. But in those [Warrior] offices, when someone came up with that phrase, I believe they knew exactly what they were talking about," said Miller.

Major League Lacrosse Commissioner David Gross spoke with NBC Charlotte by phone Thursday evening and said, "I honestly didn't know what it meant until someone told me to look it up. MLL was simply posting and retweeting a sponsor. We deleted all of it after I found out what it meant."

Miller is one of only three African-American players in the MLL and said he would like an apology and explanation from the people at Warrior.

"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.

In the meantime, he has taken to Twitter, giving away all of his Warrior branded gear.

"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.

When asked what that means for the future of his career, the 23-year-old superstar said, "As of now, I won't be playing. I won't be playing if it means I have to wear the uniform."

Miller said his Hounds teammates have voiced their support. He has not spoken with team owners or management.

NBC Charlotte attempted to contact Warrior Sports but was unable to reach anyone. As of Thursday night, it appeared Warrior had removed any active references to the '#NinjaPlease' campaign.

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