Jaylen Brown has powerful statement on Irving-sparked NBA racism discussion
Jaylen Brown is both one of the NBA players with a deep commitment to social justice — he drove from Boston to Atlanta to lead a protest — and one of its most thoughtful players.
He’s also a Celtic, a team at the center of a discussion of racism NBA players face from some fans, following comments by the Nets’ Kyrie Irving during these teams’ first-round series. That has led to a discussion of racism from NBA crowds and in Boston — which includes an embarrassing reply to Irving by Danny Ainge — over the past few days.
“I have a perspective to share. I’ve kind of seen the things floating around with Boston and the topic of racism and people around me urge that I should share my perspective. I have not talked to anyone, Kyrie, Marcus, or Danny Ainge about my thoughts or my perspective, but I do think it’s a good conversation.
“I think that racism should be addressed and/or systemic racism should be addressed in the city of Boston. It also should be addressed in the United States. However, I do not like the manner it was brought up in terms of centering around a playoff game. It bothers me if the construct of racism is used as a crutch or an opportunity to execute a personal gain. I’m not saying that’s the case, but I do think racism right now is bigger than basketball. I do think racism is bigger than Game 3 of the playoffs. So I want to urge the media to paint that narrative as well. Because when it’s painted in that manner it’s insensitive to people who actually are dealing with racism on a daily basis.
“The constructs and the constraints of systemic racism in our school system, inequality in education, lack of opportunity, lack of resources, adequate housing, affordable housing, adequate health care, tokenism, the list goes on. I recognize my privilege as an athlete but once you get to a certain point nothing that you experience overtakes the experiences that people deal with on a daily basis. So I want to emphasize that as well.
“I know that every Celtics fan in our arena is not a racist. We have people of all walks of life, ethnicities, colors that are diehard Celtics fans. So I think by painting every Celtics fan as a racist would be unfair. However, Boston, we’ve got a lot of work to do. No question. Incarceration rate is ridiculous. The wealth disparity is embarrassing. The inequality in education specifically in Boston Public Schools needs to be better. There’s lack of resources there, lack of opportunity. The tokenism here in Boston needs to be addressed as well. But if we’re going to talk about it and that’s what the media is going to bring up, I think a sporting arena, things might exist. But in the real world things exist to far different extremities. So I definitely wanted to share my perspective. This is my opinion, of course, and people can challenge that.
“I definitely think, Boston, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”