(Image – Johnny Carpenter)
In response to George Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, protests have erupted nationwide. A number of former Virginia basketball players have been involved in the protests, while others have reacted to Floyd’s death and the subsequent uproar via social media.
On Monday, Malcolm Brogdon appeared on both NBA The Jump and First Take to discuss his efforts protesting in Atlanta, along with his thoughts on how progress can be achieved regarding the systematic racism that has been the subject of nationwide uproar.
While talking to Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman on First Take, Brogdon outlined the reasoning for the black community’s recent outrage. He mentions that “these are people that have had checks delayed or cancelled for two months now,” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He adds “people are desperate. The pandemic targets the black community. We’re the people that don’t have access to healthcare. We’re the people that don’t have the top-level jobs,” and explains that “people need to understand the desperateness that our community is in and how hopeless we feel.”
Brogdon continues, saying “to see another black man murdered in the streets, for no reason, over a fraudulent twenty-dollar bill, it’s inexcusable.” He adds, “It happens so much, and my fear is that we as a people will become numb to it,” underlining that “it’s important for us to stay outraged. It’s important for us continue to be angry, continue to protest and continue to shed light and highlight what’s going on in this country and the broken system we are living.”
When asked by Rachel Nichols about a solution, Brogdon emphasizes that “we need help. We need other people. We need people of different races to step up with us and in front of us and beside us and support us and speak up.” On top of that, Brogdon says that “We need to vote, we have to get out and vote. On the local, state, and federal level. We have to get out and vote as a whole.”
Brogdon ties back to his original solution when he says that “specifically, white people have to help,” noting that “We have to find the white people in high enough positions who have notoriety, that can speak up for us and help.” He continues, “There’s only so much African Americans can do there’s only so much weight our voices do hold and that’s why it’s important for people of other races and use the weight of their voice to impact change.”
On Sunday, Virginia released a statement from Tony Bennett. Bennett starts his statement by saying “words cannot adequately capture the pain and sadness we are witnessing due to all the social injustice that so many people of color have faced for so long.” Bennett also acknowledges his own privilege, saying “My mind and heart are telling me that, as a white man, talk is cheap.”
He notes that “My lord teaches faith without works is dead and loving one another with kindness, filled with good deeds, is the right way,” before stating “I will choose the right way first and foremost.”
In regards to his position as a coach, Bennett states “I am thankful for the gift of coaching so many young, black men that have shown strength, kindness, and goodness to ALL people in so many wonderful ways in the face of opposition,” adding, “That is the right way.”
He closes with an emphasis on his pillar of unity, saying “When we put our hands in and say ‘FAMILY’ it transcends way beyond basketball,” deducing that “We are united in all things. Unified diversity is powerful and right, and the prayer of my heart for these times.”
South Carolina women’s basketball coach and former UVA great Dawn Staley shared her thoughts on the situation in an article for The Players’ Tribune titled “Black People are Tired”. In said article, Staley reflects on the murder of George Floyd, but also recalls her past and her direct experiences with racism, before underlining the criticality that everyone. who can votes and removes President Trump from office.
Notably, Staley says that “My heart is breaking,” that “we’ve been down this road before, and we continue to go down this road.” She expresses her exasperation when she says “I mean, it’s 2020, and we still have to see this,” adding, “Black people are tired.”
(Please, do read Staley’s piece here. I can’t do it justice.)
She goes on to say that Trump’s recent statement “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” is “not helping anybody.” Staley then poses the question “You want something different?” before emphasizing that “we as voters need to do something.”
Staley closes her piece with hope, wishing that “if anything good can come out of George Floyd’s senseless death, it is people going out to vote to change what’s happening in our country.”
London Perrantes was back on twitter on Monday, exclaiming “Yo, have everybody lost their damn minds????”
Ty Jerome retweeted his response, saying “I think so bro.”
Perrantes has also posted a number of pictures of himself peacefully protesting in California with a few members of his family. In each, Perrantes is seen wearing a Colin Kaepernick jersey.
Jerome also responded to someone’s tweet which called George Floyd “some guy” and criticized the looting. In response, Jerome exclaimed “‘That guy’? You don’t seem to be that bothered by the fact that George Floyd was murdered by a cop while other COPS stood there and watched. The cops are the people we pay to protect us by the way…..”
Recent transfer from Rice Trey Murphy tweeted that it “Truly breaks my heart that generation after generation has to deal with the same racism and oppression. This has to end.”
Justin Anderson has been active as well, notably, on social media. In response to police brutality in Fredericksburg, Anderson tweeted “Grew up here, feared getting pulled over by cops,” remembering how there were “White kids wearing confederate t-shirts to school everyday like its Nike. Slave blocks left on display and they say its ‘apart of city history’. Now, tear gas and shooting rubber bullets at peaceful protesters??”
Devon Hall took to Instagram to share his thoughts, stating in a post “Let’s change the world right NOW,” noting how “our system has failed us for much too long. This is for us and our next generation, so they won’t have to live in an unjust world like today.” Hall states that “I want my kids to see justice served and not fear police encounters.”
He reflects, mentioning that “being a black man in America,” means that “you have to ponder life or death with some police encounters.”
“THIS MUST STOP NOW,” he says, adding “you don’t know the struggle of living black…”
Following the lead of numerous other NBA players, Deandre Hunter posted an image containing the text “If YOU ain’t wit US, WE ain’t wit Y’ALL!”
Cory Alexander posted a thread with his thoughts on Twitter, saying “Please understand that of course WE know that all lives matter. But, all lives aren’t being hunted down and killed in the street for everyone view,” going on to say that “Black Lives Matter only exists because BLACK People are being treated in an INHUMANE manner in the U.S.
Last week, Locker Room Access co-founder Justin Anderson and Malcolm Brogdon were involved in protests all day Saturday, along with former Cal star and current Boston Celtic Jaylen Brown. At one point, Brogdon spoke to the crowd of protestors.
In the minute or so of Brogdon’s speech that was recorded, he emphasizes that “I got brothers, I got sisters, I got friends… that are getting pulled over, just discrimination. Day after day, just dealing with the same bullsh*t. This is systematic.”
While Brogdon makes his frustration with the unjust system obvious, he notes that “we don’t have to burn down our homes,” and, speaking in Atlanta, he points out that “we built this city. This is the most proudly black city in the world, man, in the world. Let’s take some pride in that.”
He continues, saying “This is a moment. We have leverage right now,” and emphasizing the historical relevance of said moment by saying “our kids are going to look back at this and say ‘you were a part of that’.”
After underlining the future impact of today’s events, Brogdon relates them to the past. He recalls “I got a grandfather that marched next to Dr. [Martin Luther] King in the ‘60s. He was amazing, and he would be proud to see us all here,” before stating that “we got to keep pushing forward, and we need more leaders.”
Saturday evening, Brogdon also posted an image of himself and Jaylen Brown protesting with the caption “Stay together, keep fighting.”
On Friday, Kyle Guy took to social media, following an eight-week absence, to speak out. He opens his two-minute statement saying that “I [have] got to break that silence because of the recent tragedies and, honestly, the tragedies that have been going on for the last 400 plus years.”
Guy then offers his “condolences and prayers to the families of George Floyd, Sean Reed, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, amongst others,” before he acknowledges that “I understand I was born with privilege. I understand that as a white male in this society I was given opportunities, passes, and favors that most people do not get.”
He then emphasizes that “I want everyone to know that I know I’m not black, but I am going to stand up with the black community. I am going to fight for the black community. And I am going to speak up with and for the black community.”
Guy goes on to say that “it’s because of the institutional racism in this country that it’s going to take people who look like me along with people of color to make a difference, because black people alone aren’t being heard.”
He then references a video that has gone viral on twitter recently, in which a woman asks a crowd of white people to stand up if they would want to be treated like black people are in the United States. In response to “not one single person standing up,” Guy asks “is that what you guys call the greatest country on earth? That’s unacceptable.”
London Perrantes took a different approach on Wednesday, posting an image of the 2016-2017 team kneeling in all black, mirroring the protests of Colin Kaepernick, in response to the KKK riot and march in Charlottesville, and visually underlining his solidarity.
On Friday, current Virginia basketball player Justin McKoy also took to twitter to share his thoughts. In his message, McKoy details the progression of protesting injustice. He starts, “Injustice occurs,” then details how “you kneel peacefully & silently – you’re blackballed & slandered.” He continues “You use your platform & speak up – you’re told to ‘shut up and dribble’. You peacefully protest – you’re broken up, attacked, ignored.” McKoy closes by asking “I don’t know if rioting is right, but what else can they do?”
Future ‘Hoo Carson McCorkle shared his message of solidarity on the twitter-sphere on Friday, stating “To the African American Community, I am with you. I stand with you. I have nothing but love for you.”
Mike Scott retweeted The Associated Press’ tweet announcing the arrest of the “police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck,” with the message “Y’all spelled murder wrong, fools.”
On Instagram, Ralph Sampson posted a montage of photos showing police officers beating a black man with sticks, voicing in the caption “From beating with a stick in 1991, to killing today. [What the f*ck]. From Martin Luther King Jr.’s and Malcom X’s days, nothing much has changed.”
In this time of substantial division and controversy, seeing our people speaking up for what they believe is inspiring, to say the least.