Abdul-Jabbar wrote that it wasn’t right that some protesters resorted to burning buildings and looting businesses but they weren’t exactly wrong. He wrote that the black community has come to a tipping point.
“You’re not wrong — but you’re not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system, and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness — write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change — the needle hardly budges,” he wrote in the newspaper.
The Los Angeles Lakers legend wrote that the coronavirus pandemic is making things substantially worse for African-Americans and that President Trump’s tweets aren’t helping.
“But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting,” he wrote. “Just as the slimy underbelly of institutional racism is being exposed, it feels like hunting season is open on blacks. If there was any doubt, President Trump’s recent tweets confirm the national zeitgeist as he calls protesters ‘thugs’ and looters fair game to be shot.
“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. 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.”
He finished his column urging people not to “rush to judgment” but to “rush to justice.”
Floyd’s police-involved death last week kicked off widespread protests and unrest across the nation over the course of the week. Video showed Floyd was in custody when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on the man’s neck. Floyd screamed for help and later died in a hospital.
Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, authorities said Friday.