Pistons Coach Dwane Casey Sees Little Progress Made on Racism

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America’s original sin is slavery, and long after the Emancipation Proclamation, the great divide in this country continues to manifest itself in a racist driven form. Segregation, Jim Crow, Voter Discrimination, Birtherism, the MAGA movement and back once again at the forefront- bigoted police brutality.

Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey released a long, poignant and powerful statement today. He fears for his eight-year-old son, and the world he’ll grow up in. In the statement, Casey harkened back to when he was eight year old himself, living in the Jim Crow era segregated south. The Pistons released this statement today, while many of our nation’s cities are recovering from riots last night, and bracing for more rioting to come tonight.

There is much anger and civil unrest over Minneapolis police officer Derek Chavin murdering George Floyd, as well as other racist atrocities committed by police departments in other cities recently. There is no peace because there is no justice, and the rage so many of us have is a good thing. It shows and unacceptance of a failing system.

If there were apathy, we’d be much worse off. If only more people had listened to Colin Kaepernick three years ago, as he delivered an important and powerful message. Sadly, too many Americans dismissed and/or ridiculed it.

But we’ll end the opining and analysis right there. We’ll let the words of Dwane Casey stand on their own without any edit or commentary.

We wholeheartedly agree with all of it.

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Fifty-four years ago I was an eight-year-old boy living in rural Kentucky when the schools were desegregated.  I walked into a white school where I was not wanted nor welcomed.

At that time there were no cell phones to record my treatment, no cable news stations with 24/7 coverage, no social media to record the reality of the situation or offer support nor condemnation.

But I can remember exactly how I felt as an eight-year-old child.  I felt helpless.  I felt as if I was neither seen, nor heard, nor understood.  

As I have watched the events unfold in the days following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a city where I coached and once called home, I see how many people continue to feel those same feelings – helpless, frustrated, invisible, angry.

I understand the outrage because it seems the list continues to grow: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd. The injustices continue to mount and nothing seems to be changing.

Fifty-four years later, my son is now eight years old and I look at the world he is growing up in and wonder, how much has really changed?

How often is he judged on sight?

Is he growing up in a world where he is seen, and heard, and understood?

Does he feel helpless?  Will he be treated like George Floyd or Ahmaud Abrey?  What have we really done in the last 54 years to make his eight-year-old world better than mine was?

 We all have to be and do better.

We have to change the way we see and hear each other.

We have to work together to find solutions to make the justice system just.  Black, white and brown people have to work together to find new answers.   The only way we can stop the systemic problems that people of color have faced all our lives is through honesty and transparency.

We have to understand why people are at their limit at this moment.  It takes empathy, in its truest form.  It takes a culture shift, it takes action.  Let’s stop the injustice now. 

Let’s not allow another generation to continue to live in a world where they are treated as unequal.  Now is the time for real change.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TV, Sports Illustrated, Chicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.com, on Twitter and his cat on Instagram.

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