While most Americans are realizing early in Donald Trump’s Presidency that the country has messed up something serious by allowing the mogul to rise to POTUS, there are others who would have you believe that the country will in some way improve and have its racial divides healed by the man who promises the world greatness.
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is not one of those blind believers. He has been one of several high profile NBA coaches who have publicly denounced Trump’s election victory and warned of the dangers of exclusion and oppression in our society.
Before Thursday night’s matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers, Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News asked Pop what the annual Black History Month observance means to him.
In light of everything that has been going on beyond the court— like the election of President Donald Trump in November, last month’s Women’s March following Trump’s inauguration, the administration’s introduction of “alternative facts” into the national discourse and the chaotic rollout of the executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S., for example — the San Antonio Spurs head coach spoke freely about these new challenges our country must face.
(Photo Credit: Slate.com)
via Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com:
Pop: "Well, it’s a remembrance, and a bit of a celebration in some ways. It sounds odd because we’re not there yet, but it’s always important to remember what has passed and what is being experienced now by the black population. It’s a celebration of some of the good things that have happened, and a reminder that there’s a lot more work to do.
But more than anything, I think if people take the time to think about it, I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with, “I’m tired of talking about that,” or, “Do we have to talk about race again?” And the answer is, “You’re damned right we do.” Because it’s always there, and it’s systemic, in the sense that when you talk about opportunity, it’s not about, “Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American dream.” That’s a bunch of hogwash.
If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage — educationally, economically, culturally, in this society and all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense, a neighborhood sense with laws, zoning, education. We have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated, but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve. It’s a tough one because people don’t really want to face it.
And it’s in our national discourse. We have a president of the United States [Donald Trump] who spent four or five years disparaging and trying to [de]legitimize our president [Barack Obama]. And we know that was a big fake. But still, [he] felt for some reason it had to be done. I can still remember a paraphrase close to a quote “investigators were sent to Hawaii and you cannot believe what they found.” Well, that was a lie. So if it’s being discussed and perpetrated at that level, you’ve got a national problem.
I think that’s enough."
Now if Donald Trump had delivered that speech to commemorate Black History month, he would have probably gotten a standing ovation from the Black community.
Instead he hit us with a bland and uninterested and outdated, 1970's-style Black History Month lesson about Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He did nothing to show his understanding of the contributions of African-Americans to this country. Does he know that African-Americans were making discoveries and advancements in every area of society way before and consistently after slavery. At least shoutout Diddy and acknowledge Barack. Those are gimmes.
So if our President won’t give us anything to chew on during Black History month, I’ll take Pop’s cultured, considerate and honest views on the state of our country. Besides, he’s around African-American men 99 percent of the time and he actually speaks with them and attempts to bridge cultures rather than divide them.
In Pop, there’s a least one prominent white celebrity figure in a heavily black populated sport acknowledging institutional racism and white privilege as a real issue that the United States needs to address. He speaks truth in the booth and doesn't care who doesn't like the fact that he brings things to light that makes other privileged whites feel uncomfortable. People like Pop are necessary to our country's constant healing and growing process.
What better time than Black History Month to really get the conversation percolating.