Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics opened his news conference on Tuesday afternoon with a passionate statement about Jacob Blake, the Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, who was shot seven times in the back by police on Monday in front of his young children. Blake, who is now paralyzed from the waist down, was reportedly breaking up a fight.
Brown spoke to the media for over two minutes straight, making important points and asking tough questions.
"People post my jersey all the time - No. 7. And every time I look at my jersey now, what I see is a Black man being shot 7 times. All America sees is his background report. It’s easier to see that than it is to see the truth."— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) August 25, 2020
Jaylen Brown's powerful statement on Jacob Blake ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/0R6ATynBPn
“There is an emphasis in this country on the framing of these instances, such as Jacob Blake. ‘Well, he was a convicted felon, he had a history of police brutality, he possibly had a weapon.’ This framework is not unfamiliar to people of color or African Americans, nor does it constitute death or being shot seven times.
“The reality is, the majority of African Americans and people of color have a history with the police. It comes with plagues like systemic oppression, lack of education, economic opportunity and housing. Most people of color, most minority communities, have issues with the police.
“The question that I would like to ask is: does America think Black people or people of color are uncivilized, savages, or naturally unjust? Or are we products of the environments that we participate in? That’s the question I would like to ask to America and America has proven its answer over and over and over again. Are we not human beings? Is Jacob Blake not a human being?
“I don’t care if he did something 10 years ago, 10 days ago, 10 minutes ago. If he served his sentence and he was released back into society, he still deserves to be treated like a human and does not deserve to be shot in the back seven times with the intent to kill. His kids will never unsee that, his family will never unsee that, and, frankly, I will never unsee it. People post my jersey all the time, No. 7. Every time I look at my jersey now, what I see is a Black man being shot seven times. All America sees is his background or his background report. It’s easier to see that than it is to see the truth.”
Brown’s words are tremendously powerful, but just as importantly, he sounds so, so tired. Tired of hearing about and having to talk about yet another Black man being shot by the police over a seemingly minor issue, even after months and months of protests around the country. Tired of having to think about what it means for him and his friends and family, wondering if one day it’ll be them. Tired of having to ask “Are Black people not human beings?”
Brown says the country has given its answer on that, but it’s clear that he and many others are fighting hard to change it.
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