The entire Miami Heat team jumped in on an online town hall meeting to discuss racism in the U.S on Friday as communities across the country observed Juneteenth, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was also involved, with members of his team taking turns speaking about their experiences with the above, as well as police brutality, white privilege, and social injustice.
Jimmy Butler, certainly Miami’s most outspoken player, shared a story from his teens in which he noted having heard a young child make a racist remark to his father while he was walking out of a Walmart in Houston, Texas, with his brother.
“It was so confusing to me because I was 16,” the All-Star forward said. “To me, that is what all of this stems from. Everybody is being taught this hate, and it is super hurtful. You know the difference between right and wrong. For that parent to teach his kid at that young of an age, there is no other word for it except for wrong. This is crazy, this is the world that we live in. Now is the time to change.”
Center Meyers Leonard claimed his parents did teach him right and wrong but did admit to being privileged simply because he grew up white.
“I was raised to know right from wrong,” Leonard explained. “Period. Everything that has been going on for years has been wrong. … It’s hard to understand because I’m white. I have white privilege. That is a fact. It doesn’t matter if I grew up with nothing. I still have white privilege.”
Coach Spo declared there’s no more staying quiet or sweeping the issues under the rug.
“In many ways, this town hall is like our virtual team peaceful protest,” he said. “And we are protesting against systemic racism, against the social injustices, the social inequalities, in the cases of police brutality against the Black community that we see far too often.
“We are fed up with it just like everybody else. We want to see change. And we want to show full support of the Black Lives Matter movement as a team and organization. The time to be silent or sweeping these topics under the rug, those are long gone.”
“All of this hate,” Jimmy Butler added, “like it or not, is kind of breeding more hate.”