The unfortunate racial events that occurred in 2020 helped to lead to a heightened social awareness in people who otherwise were never plagued by racism. White allies from all over the country took to the streets and took on tear gas and beatings from police in the name of social justice.
Back in April 2019 retired NBA player and social activist, Kyle Korver , wrote a memoir-like article entitled “Privilege” where he recollects his teammates experiences with racism and how those experiences helped to open his eyes to white privilege and the two Americas. In it he recalls on events such as his teammate, Thabo Sefolosha, being assaulted and arrested by NYPD or Russell Westbrook being berated with racial slurs during a game. These events lead Korver to question his programmed way of thinking and caused him to look at these events and others from an unprivileged perspective.
Korver recently sat down with the The Rematch with Etan Thomas and touched base on social inequality, the role he feels he needs to play in the fight for justice, and basketball.
Korver felt the best way to reach a white audience was to lead with his own stories and experiences. He acknowledges that while there are many black articulate leaders that can deliver the message better than he can, that his white counterparts will be more likely to listen when the message comes from a fellow white man. “We’re in a place, especially as white men, that we must step in to this and try to humbly walk this journey, and align ourselves where we are listening to black voices who are educating us and giving us the right messages to say,” believes Korver.
“I want to be a bridge because I care deeply. I have many black friends who I love, who I don’t just see as equal but I see as better than me. They’re better people, better dads, better athletes, more creative, stronger, braver, more courageous than I am. And I am also connected to a lot of white people who I know to be generous, and kind, and loving and they love their country and their families. But there’s this huge gap between us. How do we step into the middle and bridge this. You can’t just point fingers at each other,” says Korver.
Korver believes that the start to a solution towards racial equality is empathy and listening. He believes white people must be able to step back and really evaluate a problem that may not be their reality, or even the reality of people around them. He feels that as a society we tend to hold tight to what we believe and understand and that many lack the ability to see things from another perspective.
“You don’t know what you don’t know. But that’s why it is important for us to be messengers because there is a whole different America that these white networks will never see or will never experience if we’re not trying to bring this message. Just because you’re in diversity doesn’t mean you can see, doesn’t mean you know. There’s a lot of work that has to happen in your heart,” says Korver.
Thomas asked Korver about his opinion on the awkward interview between Shaq and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, one of Korver’s former teams. During the interview Shaq told Mitchell he doesn’t have what it takes to take it to the next level. Korver states, “Theres a responsibility when you talk on that big of a stage. I think as someone who is looked up too you have the opportunity to speak positivity and speak life in to people. Ultimately that’s what we should want to do in life.” Korver says he looks for opportunities to push players and those around him forward and he believes that is the key to bettering the game of basketball and life in general.
Korver possesses a humbled, yet proactive and eager spirit towards the fight for equality. He has aligned himself in the fight and proven to be a valuable ally. Korver wants more white men to align themselves in the movement and says that while some white people have chosen to distance themselves, many white players have approached him looking for ways to make themselves allies as well.
“This is big work. The more you step in to this the more you realize how deep, painful and hard this story is. But we all have a role to play,” tells Korver.