SINCE the George Floyd incident that sparked a stronger and more unified Black Lives Matter protest in the United States and the rest of the world, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has been one of the most vocal NBA players at the front lines.
The 24-year-old athlete has gone from raising awareness on his social media platforms to collaborating with apparel brands that carry protest merchandise. Yesterday, he even wrote a personal essay on The Players’ Tribune regarding the matter.
Kuzma titled his story “Ain’t No Sticking to Sports”. He directed his righteous anger against those who had upheld the people institutions that propped up racism, especially the USA’s lawmakers, for their failure to address issue that has been going on for hundreds of years — evolving into different kinds of systemic racism.
In his opener, he wrote: “I’m mixed (my mom is white and my dad is black), and as far as my identity growing up, it was really in the eye of the beholder. When I was a kid, some of the black kids in my neighborhood would say, 'You’re not black.' But then when I got to Bentley High, all of a sudden I’m like one of the only black kids at an all-white school. I heard all kinds of racist things, racist jokes. None of those kids saw me as anything but black.”
What he wants is for everyone to see that everyone needs to be respected equally as humans. But, he said, that’s unlikely to happen unless those at the top actually acknowledges the past African-Americans endured.
“America’s thing that we just do not want to talk about, as a country, is race,” he wrote. “The first thing you have to understand is that racism is in every part of society. It’s in the law, it’s economic, it’s person-to-person. It’s basically at every level. The second thing you have to understand is that society made it that way from years and years and years of systematic oppression.”
He pleads that people, even those still living in their color-blind bubbles, that the system needs to be fixed by resisting the existing unjust laws.
Kuzma explained: “That’s why white people have to realize, it’s not just about your ‘heart’ or your individual mindset. Like how some people say, ‘I don’t have a racist bone in my body.’ Well, the system does, and you can’t see it because it benefits you."
He also shared his experiences having been an eyewitness to the decline of job opportunities among black people during the Great Recession in 2008.
Kuzma recalled that he used to live in a neighborhood mostly composed to people of color. “Ever since the recession, there’s really no hope there. There’s no financial give. The place where I grew up has been hurting,” he continued.
“You can’t understand what happened to George Floyd unless you understand the past.”
Kuzma reiterated that racism didn’t end in 1865 after the Civil War. It’s still going on up to today, just in a widely different form.
He also raised the alarm that the problem is much bigger than the police. In fact, the government itself could play a huge role on ending it, if they wanted to.
To bring about that change, Kuzma pledged to launcha voting campaign to help educate people on the coming elections later this year.
“We have to do two things at once — KEEP UP the noise. Keep protesting, marching. Keep demanding CHANGE in the STREETS. But also demand that change on election day,” he said.
The battle is far from over but with continuous defiance of the existing unjust laws and people in power, it would soon be.