Editor’s note: A few weeks ago, we checked up on the Brew Hoop community, and specifically asked how you felt about the tone our writing and the comments section has taken over the past six months or so.
We are a basketball website, and we will remain a basketball website. At the same time, when current events, politics, and social movements overlap with our sport, our team, and our city, so too do they overlap with our conversations on this basketball website.
A number of people responded that they still wanted us to focus on basketball; consider this fair warning that this article will not focus on basketball. As always, we welcome your feedback, by contact form or via email, at email@example.com.
"There's nothing more important than getting social justice and the wrongs that are happening in our country right and creating real and lasting change. There's literally nothing more important." - Budenholzer.— Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) August 25, 2020
George Hill, on what he and the Bucks can do from the bubble in the wake of Jacob Blake being shot: "We can't do anything. First of all, we shouldn't have even came to this damn place, to be honest. I think coming here took all the focal points off what the issues are."— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) August 24, 2020
To bring everybody up to speed, it happened again, this time in Kenosha, WI. An unarmed man was confronted by armed police officers, and that confrontation led to the police shooting the man. The man, Jacob Blake, is Black. The video, linked above, understandably does not tell the whole story of what led to the altercation, but the outcome is clear: the actions of police have caused irreparable harm to a person of color. This would be just as outrageous and appalling if the script were flipped, and it was a White person catching seven shots to the back, but police shootings disproportionately affect non-White people. That’s why we say it happened again.
It happened again because nothing has changed.
The push for systemic change has been happening for a long, long time. We discussed it back in June (which already feels like a lifetime ago), but many people have backed off from the matter. Protests are still being held, people are still marching, and lawmakers are either promising change or finding excuses for why change isn’t necessary. Basketball fans haven’t necessarily forgotten about the larger movement, but how many people have grown content to see “Black Lives Matter” emblazoned on an NBA court in Florida rather than on a sign in their hands?
This was always the downside of the bubble. The COVID-19 pandemic threw everybody in America for a loop, and the league’s response to coronavirus was largely a cautious one. That is, until the financial realities and the league’s (read: the owners’) interest was in finding a solution to resume play, to provide entertainment for an audience that honestly could use it. But the league’s bills are paid by the players who suit up and make the advertisements worth paying for, and the players were not all convinced that they should go along with the plan. Based on George Hill’s own words, they probably still aren’t.
It’s just sickening. It’s heartless. It’s a fucked-up situation. As I said, you’re supposed to look at the police to protect and serve. Now, it’s looked at harass or shoot. To almost take a guy’s life. Thank God he’s still alive. I know the cops are probably upset that he’s still alive because I know they surely tried to kill him. But to almost take a guy’s life, especially in front of one’s kids, that wasn’t resisting, in his back at point-blank range, is a heartless and gutless situation. We need some justice for that.
We can’t do anything. First of all, we shouldn’t even have come to this damn place, to be honest. Coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are. But we’re here, so it is what it is. We can’t do anything from right here. But definitely, when this all settles, some things need to be done. This world has to change. Our police department has to change. Us as a society has to change. Right now, we’re not seeing any of that. Lives are being taken as we speak day in and day out. There’s no consequence or accountability for it. That’s what has to change.
I don’t think we should be talking about basketball today. We should talk about the Blake family and what’s going on. It’s devastating and basketball shouldn’t even be on our mind right now. We’re thankful for the win, but none of this really matters.
As Hill mentioned, Jacob Blake is still alive. He may be paralyzed from the waist down, but his life, at least, was spared. Reportedly, Blake’s children (aged 8, 5, and 3 years old) were in the car as the police fired shots into Blake’s back.
Now what? It happened, again, so now what? A renewed round of protests were sparked, and those protests came with the now seemingly-requisite imposition of curfews and escalations of force by law enforcement, and attacks on businesses that didn’t do anything but have physical locations where angry people were gathering. Tear gas can be washed away, bruises will heal, and broken windows and stolen merchandise can be reimbursed by insurance.
Jacob Blake, maybe he can even walk again! But you know as well as I that his sons, those three kids, are forever scarred by the violence deployed by agents of the state against their family, against their father, against them.
Meanwhile, politicians will call for action, while others will ignore the call. Pass a law! No, start a task force! Defund the police! No, increase funds for the police! Back and forth, back and forth the debate will rage on, until something else captures our attention and attracts our anger, then something else...and it happens again.
Because it will happen again, unless things change.
On Inside @NBAonTNT, @TheJetOnTNT just said that while George Hill might not want to be in the bubble, he's happy that Hill is in it because otherwise he might not have been heard Hill's impassioned postgame comments. The bubble helped him have a platform. https://t.co/2pyzHvCXf0— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) August 25, 2020
The upside, which feels oddly disgusting to say, is that this is no longer happening in the dark. Mobile phones and social media can broadcast these events in mere moments, getting attention turned onto these injustices, which will (hopefully) fuel the efforts needed to address root causes of systemic racism, and find ways to bring about equity and justice.
The NBA, for all their flaws, has taken steps to support this goal. Their approach has been far from perfect (particularly limiting players to choose from an “approved list” of messages on their jerseys), as is their track record on human rights on a global scale (particularly their business interests in China and how they are prioritized over supporting democracy in Hong Kong or oppression against Uyghur Muslims). The league is often accused of hypocrisy for maintaining this cognitive dissonance, as if offering a platform for the social movement seeking to bring safety and security to all of us is degraded beyond recognition.
At least they’re doing something.
What will I do? What will you do?
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