“I am who I am. Take it or leave it. I’m not going to change my values and change my approach because someone feels uncomfortable. I am not going to be disrespectful or step on any toes. But I am going to be me.” Boston Celtics shooting guard Jaylen Brown
Jaylen Brown has flourished in his second season with the Boston Celtics by showcasing his insane athleticism on both ends of the court. Enjoy his most impressive slams, swats and more athletic plays!
From a sociopolitical perspective, it seems as if the more the world changes, the more it remains the same. Whenever this adage is used, it is often to describe an age-old phenomenon that has not dissipated with time, and that connotation is usually negative as well.
However, as far as intelligent, articulate and activist-minded NBA players are concerned, there had been a dearth exhibiting these three attributes up until very recently. It does indeed appear as if we're trending a positive direction. Yes, Colin Kaepernick is currently the name that comes to mind when thinking of professional athletes that are willing to take great risks to speak on issues of racial inequality and injustice in America. However, prior to that, LeBron James was the most recognizable face speaking on these issues.
Even then, one could argue that his overtures toward remembering Trayvon Martin, such as the “show of unity” hoodie posses with the rest of the Miami Heat, was cosmetic at best.
The legacy of the conscious black athlete can be chronicled in the career of the great Los Angeles Lakers small forward scoring dynamo Elgin Baylor, who boycotted a game in Charleston in January 1959 to protest segregated accommodations.
Boston Celtics second-year shooting guard Jaylen Brown is perhaps one of the smartest young players in the league today. But that intelligence isn’t solely related to his play between the lines. Recently, Brown sat down with the Guardian UK and gave some pretty interesting, well thought answers regarding how racism and white supremacy have affected his worldview while simultaneously lulling the unaffected into a since of complacency.
“We’ve got two young fish swimming one way and an older fish swimming the other way,” said the 21-year-old star while contemplating how race has shaped the United States. “They cross paths and the older fish says: ‘What’s up guys, how’s the water?’ The two younger fish turn around and look back at the wiser fish and ask: ‘What’s water?’ They’ve never recognized that this is what they actually live in. So, it takes somebody special like Martin Luther King to see past what you’ve been embedded in your whole life.”
Jaylen Brown speaks out against Trump: "Racism definitely exists across America today.. some people think racism has dissipated or no longer exists.. Trump has made it a lot more acceptable for racists to speak their minds.
“Racism definitely exists across America today. Of course, it’s changed a lot – and my opportunities are far greater than they would have been 50 years ago. So, some people think racism has dissipated or no longer exists. But it’s hidden in more strategic places. You have less people coming to your face and telling you certain things. But [Donald] Trump has made it a lot more acceptable for racists to speak their minds.”
Individuals born in certain conditions are shaped by those conditions prior to even being born. Things like place of residence, employment opportunities for parents, the medical attention our mothers received while we were in utero, everything we can and cannot imagine is predetermined. Jaylen told the reporter of how his current success has caused to him to even more conscious of where he came from.
“Even though I’ve ended up in a great place, who is to say where I would’ve been without basketball? It makes me feel for my friends. And my little brothers or cousins have no idea how their social mobility is being shaped. I wish more and more that I can explain it to them. Just because I’m the outlier in my neighborhood who managed to avoid the barriers set up to keep the privileged in privilege, and the poor still poor, why should I forget about the people who didn’t have the same chance as me?”
Here’s where the brother gets deep.
“That’s the reality because sports is a mechanism of control. If people didn’t have sports they would be a lot more disappointed with their role in society. There would be a lot more anger or stress about the injustice of poverty and hunger. Sports is a way to channel our energy into something positive. Without sports who knows what half of these kids would be doing?”
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“We’re having some of the same problems we had 50 years ago. Some things have changed a lot, but other factors are deeply embedded in our society. It takes protests like Kaepernick’s to make people uncomfortable and aware of these hidden injustices. People are now a lot more aware, engaged and united in our culture. It takes a special person like Kaepernick to force these changes – because often reporters and fans say: ‘If you’re an athlete I don’t want you to say anything. You should be happy you’re making x amount of money playing sport. You should be saluting America instead of critiquing it.’ That’s our society.”