Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been a fierce advocate for social equality since his days at UCLA. He boycotted the 1968 Olympics over the unequal treatment of African Americans in the United States and has traveled the world pressing for peace, tolerance and understanding for others during much of his post-career life. He's also an author, and his latest work is truly special.
In an op-ed in the LA Times, Abdul-Jabbar defended the protests and protesters around the nation in the wake of George Floyd's death. Here are a few excerpts from the piece:
""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 everywhere." "
"“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.”"
""You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.""
Abdul-Jabbar eloquently explained the thinking of the people who are protesting in a simple way everyone can understand. Whether you agree with them or not, many of these protesters feel, to steal a phrase from his writing, "pushed to the edge," and Abdul-Jabbar advocates for their right to demonstrate that in a group setting. Of course there are some who just want to wreak havoc for no reason, but from Abdul-Jabbar's point of view the majority are standing up for social change.
As he did in the 60s when he campaigned for racial equality alongside Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Jim Brown and other athletes, Abdul-Jabbar is hoping to aid in America's latest attempt to evolve into a better version of itself. His penmanship is eloquent, but his message is even more powerful.