The George Floyd tragedy has outraged Americans. Thousands of people are protesting on the street to demand justice, which obviously has also led to riots, looting, and even curfews in some states.
Like most protests, there have been polarizing situations that drew a lot of criticism from all over the world. Some people claim that looting and rioting only hurt their chances of being heard, while others think that’s the only way to finally put an end to institutionalized racism.
Whether that’s the case or not it’s not for us to decide, but most recently, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar posted one of the most powerful statements we’ve seen in a lot of times, this time regarding George Floyd and racism in the United States.
“Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts. I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.
“So, maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.”
“What you should see when you see black protesters in the age of Trump and coronavirus is people pushed to the edge, not because they want bars and nail salons open, but because they want to live. To breathe”.
“COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “Just as the slimy underbelly of institutional racism is being exposed, it feels like hunting season is open on blacks. If there was any doubt, President Trump’s recent tweets confirm the national zeitgeist as he calls protesters ‘thugs’ and looters fair game to be shot,” Kareem wrote on his column.
Kareem has been a lifelong advocate for human rights and minority rights so this doesn’t come as a surprise. However, this situation even made Michael Jordan – who never gets into polarizing matters – to speak up and post a heartfelt statement of his own as well:
“I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry. I see and feel everyone’s pain, outrage, and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough.
I don’t have the answers, but our collective voices show strength and the inability to be divided by others. We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn our backs on senseless brutality. We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability. Our unified voice needs to put pressure on our leaders to change our laws, or else we need to use our vote to create systemic change. Every one of us needs to be part of the solution, and we must work together to ensure justice for all.
My heart goes out to the family of George Floyd and to the countless others whose lives have been brutally and senselessly taken through acts of racism and injustice,” MJ wrote.
Statement From Michael Jordan pic.twitter.com/lnXYMhtvo3
— Estee Portnoy (@esteep) May 31, 2020
It’s not a matter of politics or black vs. white here. It’s a matter of coexisting and stop murdering each other. It’s a matter of justice. That’s why even two of the greatest athletes of all time are speaking up not as privileged and beloved black men but as American citizens that endured racism growing up.