The thing about the incident that occurred in Charlottesville is its not as big an anomaly as some would like to pretend. Whether anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-Hispanic or anti-Native American, most of the race-based riots in America were committed by angry mobs of white people.
Thats not finger pointing, these are facts.
When the violence of the Charlottesville riots initially occurred, many of the individuals responding to the unfortunate, brutal happening stated their disbelief at how such a thing could occur in the United States of America. But for the descendants of those African servants that arrived in Jamestown nearly 400 years ago, the history of black on white violence in America is incredibly one-sided in favor white aggression. It was not that long ago, that I could expect almost immediate violence visited upon myself and my family simply for typing the words of this article. Less than 75 years ago, for certain. That’s within a human lifetime.
So, for Karl-Anthony Towns, an elite professional athlete in the National Basketball Association, to give his unsolicited thoughts on a race riot during these tenuous times is beyond admirable. In a personally penned article via The Players Tribune, Towns, whose father is Black and mother is Dominican, articulated himself with a candor that some would say is of a man beyond his years. Heres what he had to say about the tragedy on August 12.
My Mind. My Ideals. My Voice. Our Country. https://t.co/yIUzeyiNaY
Ive even been talking about Charlottesville with strangers. Last Wednesday, in a car on the way to LAX, my driver and I got to talking. He was an older black man, maybe in his 60s or 70s, and I was pretty sure he had a Southern accent. My grandmother was born in Georgia, and his accent sounded the same. Anyway, the man told me that he had grown up in Louisiana in the 1960s, and I told him I was from New Jersey, with a Dominican mom and a dad whos black.
Next thing, we got into Charlottesville and what it meant. He talked about growing up in the South in the 60s. He saw the bathroom signs that said white and colored. He remembers how he and his friends crossed the street because they knew that the wrong stare at someone could get them in trouble.
Before he dropped me off, he said that even though Charlottesville enraged him, it bothered him way more that this is the norm that I know. When a man from Louisiana, which has one of the most racist histories in the country, says that he feels 2017 reminds him of the 1960s, thats a problem and its disheartening.
For a lot of Americans, Charlottesville wasnt just a news event that we watched. It was an emotional event that was deeply felt by communities of all races. It was like seeing things we learned in fifth grade history class and realizing how important and relevant our history is.
Towns also criticize how President Trump has mishandled the growing racial tensions in this country.
“I was shocked by how our President responded to Charlottesville. Our President was given a layup: Denounce white supremacists. And he couldnt and wouldnt. He missed he missed badly,” the 21 year old continued.
“Its disheartening when our President doesnt understand his words carry a tremendous amount of weight. Its really hard to see our President refuse to stand up for whats right at a time when the country needs it. Especially for minorities. Its not like were talking about taxes or something. Were talking about the big issue that has divided the country since its birth.”
The Minnesota Timberwolves center ended the letter with a call for love and unity.
“I want to live my life with love but also with action. I hope to have more conversations and discussions about how to celebrate love and reject the type of hate we saw in Charlottesville. We have to love each other more, and we have to show it more. I know that for sure.”
Indeed, though we may look at our clocks to discern the movement of linear time, the real measure of time is societal progress, which seems to move one family at a time, one person at a time, one problem at a time. So, when civil violence of a racial nature is continuously visited upon generation after generation it is a sure marker that we are no closer as a country today than 40 years ago. Disheartening for some, but empowering to others.
Karl Anthony Towns has every right to be disappointed in a society that keeps regurgitating its hard lessons, but KAT is in the right place during the right time to make a difference for the future. Read the rest of his Players Tribune article here.