Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma knows there’s ‘ain’t no sticking to sports’
Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has been plenty outspoken about the latest wave of police brutality, racism, and racial inequality that has consumed the nation in recent weeks.
Kuzma took the next step on Tuesday, penning a thoughtful vow to not be silenced. Much like his teammate LeBron James won’t shut up and dribble, Kuzma “ain’t sticking to sports” this time around.
Kuzma is aware the optics don’t scream “black social activist” as a lanky, 6-foot-9 wing with all the chops to hoop up with the best of them. But he knows a thing or two about experiencing racism growing up:
“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,” Kuzma wrote in The Players’ Tribune. “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.”
The Lakers forward paints a sound picture of what it’s like to be an African American and ensures to say that conversations about race are never easy, but nevertheless necessary:
“The best analogy I’ve heard that explains white privilege is that it’s like an invisible backpack that every white person wears. If you’re white and you’re ever in a situation where you might need help, you can take that backpack off, open it up, and pull out all sorts of shit.
Get Out of Jail Free card.
Don’t get me wrong. Black people can get those things, too, but it’s a lot harder.”
Things won’t change overnight, with racism ingrained in the founding roots of this country for over four centuries. Yet Kuzma knows change should start with an open dialogue and the willingness to change:
“For that to happen, 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.
We have to vote out people that blindly support spending more on police departments than on healthcare and education. And we also have to vote out the people who aren’t making the change that we want fast enough.”
Voter awareness has been a key issue in some communities. Kuzma vows to launch a voting campaign that will help be aware of where primaries and elections are being held in each state this year.
The Lakers youngster also noted that white men fear black people who are well-read, educated, self-thinking, and able to vote. Now all of that is possible with the right resources he looks to provide to his community.