San Antonio Spurs DeMar DeRozan opened up on his experiences with racism
This week we witnessed a monumental moment in sports. On Wednesday night, the Milwaukee Bucks decided to not participate in their scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic. What happened next had effects on the San Antonio Spurs and the rest of the sporting world.
Shortly after the Bucks and Magic elected not to play in their game, the rest of the scheduled NBA games for that night were canceled. Then, as the ripple effects of the Bucks original move spread, we saw the WNBA postpone all games, MLB games were canceled, and today NHL games were canceled while several NFL teams elected not to hold practices. All of these acts of protest were in response to yet another act of violence against the Black community.
On Sunday, August 23rd, Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old man from Kenosha, Wisconsin, who was shot in the back seven times by officers from the Kenosha Police Department as he attempted to enter his car. His three sons were in the car and witnessed their father shot seven times by police. Blake remains in a Milwaukee hospital and is believed to be paralyzed as a result of the shooting.
This act of violence comes after a summer full of protests in the wake of the murder of another Black man, George Floyd, at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department.
These heinous acts have had a particularly startling impact on the NBA. The league is predominantly Black and you can find numerous players in any locker room who have had their share of negative experiences at the hands of the police. Earlier this summer, San Antonio Spurs star, DeMar DeRozan spoke on his personal experiences.
DeMar DeRozan offers a message of hope in the aftermath of police brutality
In speaking to People Magazine earlier this summer, DeMar spoke on his experiences with the police as a youth growing up in Compton, California.
“As a student at Compton High School, my friends and I were regular targets of the police. They assumed we were gang members just because we were in a group, or did things just to mess with us. Once, a cousin of mine who did nothing wrong was arrested after the police said, “Well, somebody has to go to jail today.” I still remember an older friend who was killed when the police shot him through the window of his car as he slept.”
DeRozan’s experiences with the police have helped shape him into the activist he is today. Earlier this summer he marched with Kendrick Lamar, Russell Westbrook, and thousands of others through the streets of Los Angeles in a peaceful protest that was a response to the murder of George Floyd.
In the interview with People, DeMar would later talk about how he and his friends would do everything they could to avoid interacting with the police, how every story they heard about a friend or family member interacting with the public servants who were sworn to protect and serve their communities just left them more fearful of them.
These words are eerily similar to what LeBron James said earlier this week when he spoke on how the Black community is afraid of the police. As ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported, LeBron had this to say after Game 4 of the playoffs: “We are scared as Black people in America. Black men, Black women, Black kids, we are terrified.”
No one should have to live in a constant state of fear. But that’s the sad and tragically unfair reality facing the Black community in America today. But as DeRozan iterated towards the end of his interview, it doesn’t have to stay that way.
“Don’t let this moment pass. Don’t let this opportunity pass,” DeRozan said. “Apply pressure to the whole system to make a lasting change to systematic racism, oppression, and everything that we’ve gone through for decades and decades, over and over. I would hate to live through — or let my kids live through — another experience like this to fix the future.”
So, San Antonio Spurs fans, if you’re reading this, please do your part. Peacefully protest, contact your representatives, advocate for police and prison sentencing reform, and please vote in both your local, state, and national elections.