Recent demonstrations that are happening around the US already left a significant impact around the world. In search of social and racial justice, numerous people took it to the streets to protest and fight for equality. The NBA and it’s players have also raised their voices for the right cause, and we can see both former and current NBA players speaking freely about the issue.
However, things very much different over 20 years ago, when players didn’t have the platform or the incentives to speak about various issues, especially racial and social problems. Former NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was one of the first ones to actively point out all the issues he was seeing in his community and wasn’t afraid to speak out. That eventually cost him his NBA career, but his fight continued still to this day.
In a recent interview for Huffpost, Abdul-Rauf talked about current protests and how different things were back in the ’90s. Even though the technology advanced and enabled for the faster spread of information, in his opinion, when it comes to racial issues, things haven’t changed that much.
“I think one of the differences is that now you have social media. Anybody with a phone could film something, and then it goes viral and more people have access. The media, even if they don’t want to focus on it, are now forced to because of the public outcry. But outside of that, I don’t see that there’s much of a difference. You always had people speaking out and challenging the system. But not much has changed.”Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, via Huffpost
The current protests also serve as a good excuse for some people to loot shops and stealing, which negatively affects the message people are trying to emphasize. In Abdul-Rauf’s mind, that is somewhat justified because people in power don’t accept peaceful protests until their property is damaged, and they suffer financial losses. He doesn’t think these things are needed, but they will happen anyway.
Sometimes the only language that political or powerful institutions can hear after you’ve had all the talks, and the conversations and the waiting, is when the property is destroyed or there’s an attempt on life. Only then there is this need to have a conversation about how we need to end racism. It shouldn’t take that, but it does, unfortunately. It’s going to take a lot of different strategies to make people listen.Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, via Huffpost
The people in the US are very much divided on this topic, despite the massive numbers of citizens protesting daily. When Abdul-Rauf was protesting, nobody backed him down, and he was eventually blackballed from the league, which in this today’s age would be almost impossible. Abdul-Rauf is proud to see so many people involved in the streets fighting for what is right, despite all the arrests made in the last couple of days.
It’s beautiful to see the constant and consistent protests ― that they haven’t let up, even after the arrest. The people have been through so much. Keep it going and put the pressure on. Don’t take your feet off the gas at any cost whatsoever. Now we need to push for other things and let them know this is serious now.Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, via Huffpost
The political activism among NBA players started almost 50 years ago when realistically, things were much worse for all other ethnicities. With that being said, it’s apparent things got better but not to the level you would expect since we’re leaving in 2020. What Abdul-Rauf did in the ’90s was just one small step in showcasing all the problems within the community, and this fight continues still to this day.