Over the years, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has never been shy in speaking out against injustices. On Saturday, the Hall of Famer took time to defend the current nationwide protest.
In an op-ed written for the Los Angeles Times, Abdul-Jabbar shared his feelings of how the death of George Floyd pushed people over the edge.
“Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “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’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.”
Abdul-Jabbar believes those who are protesting have been pushed to the edge and those who want to voice their feelings should have the right to demonstrate.
The 73-year-old also wants people not to rush to judgement, and to realize that the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the only problem the world is dealing with.
“Whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19,” Abdul-Jabbar explains.
“It isn’t because they want bars and nail salons open, but because they want to live. To breathe. What I want to see is not a rush to judgment, but a rush to justice.”
Since his time at UCLA, Abdul-Jabbar has strongly advocated for social equality. He boycotted the 1968 Summer Olympics as a stand against the unjust treatment of African Americans.
Floyd, an African American man, died on May 25 after being physically restrained by Minneapolis police for alleged forgery.