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April 8, 2019 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Kyle Korver of the Utah Jazz in the Player's Tribune: What I’m realizing is, no matter how passionately I commit to being an ally, and no matter how unwavering my support is for NBA and WNBA players of color….. I’m still in this conversation from the privileged perspective of opting in to it. Which of course means that on the flip side, I could just as easily opt out of it. Every day, I’m given that choice — I’m granted that privilege — based on the color of my skin.
posted by scaryblackdeath (19 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
Great essay.
posted by PhineasGage at 10:24 AM on April 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


Kyle Korver just made a fan.
posted by sophrontic at 10:33 AM on April 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'd never heard of this man before clicking the link, but I now count myself among his admirers - not as an athlete, I couldn't care less about that, but as a brave and principled man. We need more of those.
posted by Gamecat at 10:52 AM on April 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


Dude is very much not wrong when he says he looks like the guy you'd expect to be yelling racist slurs at a sporting event . . . so i guess im glad he wrote this.

I do wonder if Thabo would agree with Korver's assesment that they were real friends, or to what degree that feeling is mutual.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:25 AM on April 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


Well I'll admit I was rolling my eyes a little bit at this sort of "everyone watch me have a revelation" essay, until I hit the end:

If you’re wearing my jersey at a game? Know that about me. If you’re planning to buy my jersey for someone else…… know that about me. If you’re following me on social media….. know that about me. If you’re coming to Jazz games and rooting for me….. know that about me.

And if you’re claiming my name, or likeness, for your own cause, in any way….. know that about me. Know that I believe this matters.


That's some good shit. Think of every white NFL quarterback that "stayed out" of the kneeling conversations. Imagine if every single white NFL quarterback came out with a statement like this to their home city.
posted by windbox at 11:34 AM on April 8, 2019 [36 favorites]


Great essay. I sympathized with his struggle to not just understand, but deeply feel what it means to be a minority.

Also, I have heard that the alt-right crowd has made a deal of the fact that all of Korver's family names have this weird KKK theme to it. So maybe he feels it differently because of that too.
posted by indianbadger1 at 11:54 AM on April 8, 2019


all of Korver's family names have this weird KKK theme to it

I really know far too many white families who do this specifically with the letter K, and I cannot fathom. But I can. Because they don't even consider it. Which is the whole point.
posted by knownassociate at 12:14 PM on April 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


Because they don't even consider it. Which is the whole point

I think Korver realizes this too; as he obliquely mentions it in the essay:

I know I’m in a strange position, as one of the more recognized white players in the NBA. It’s a position that comes with a lot of….. interesting undertones. And it’s a position that makes me a symbol for a lot of things, for a lot of people — often people who don’t know anything about me. Usually, I just ignore them. But this doesn’t feel like a “usually” moment.


I have a feeling that this is what he is referring to.
posted by indianbadger1 at 12:20 PM on April 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


There has been subtle racism in basketball language for years and it goes both ways. Some players are "natural athletes" while others owe their skill to a "high basketball IQ". I think the best way to understand how the language of race and privilege affect us all is to have thoughtful discussions like this.
posted by ShakeyJake at 1:16 PM on April 8, 2019


Lots of good stuff.

One thing I saw here that I don't how much I've seen elsewhere -- but wish I saw more of -- was the distinction he makes with the words "guilt" and "responsibility". Not even sure those are the best words, but the concept underneath is. Even if you didn't beat up the guy lying on the street, the question of what you'll do when you find him involves personal moral responsibility (come to think of it, I think Jesus even said stuff about that).
posted by wildblueyonder at 1:31 PM on April 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


I appreciate him having the courage to discuss his old attitude about things, and relate how he was on a journey and arrived at a new place. A lot of people feel pressured to never admit their past wrongs, and I love that he had the guts to talk about specific instances he got things wrong in the past.
posted by mathowie at 1:41 PM on April 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


windbox: Imagine if every single white NFL quarterback came out with a statement like this to their home city.

Ask Chris Kluwe how that went for him (previously on MetaFilter). That was the Minnesota Vikings in 2013, and he was (potentially/ likely) let go for his activism for same-sex marriage rights.

Speaking up is a risk, and not everyone is willing or ready to take that risk. Serious kudos to all players, especially white players who use their privilege, to speak up on this matter.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:05 PM on April 8, 2019 [9 favorites]


There has been subtle racism in basketball language for years and it goes both ways. Some players are "natural athletes" while others owe their skill to a "high basketball IQ".

Sport and music are the sort of marginal occupations where minorities are allowed to excel without threatening White dominance. At one point basketball was considered a Jewish game, and the usual Jewish mental and physical stereotypes were invoked to explain that. As Jews moved out of the inner cities the team managers suddenly discovered that no, it was Black players who had the ideal qualities for the game. Funny that.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:47 PM on April 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


See also the Player's Tribune video from the same day, in which Thabo Sefolosha, Kyle Korver, Ekpe Udoh and Georges Niang discuss racism, activism, societal change, and the process of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
posted by zamboni at 5:14 PM on April 8, 2019


This section was really clarifying for me, a truly privileged person, for defining in simple language two terms that get thrown around a lot:

Two concepts that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately are guilt and responsibility.

When it comes to racism in America, I think that guilt and responsibility tend to be seen as more or less the same thing. But I’m beginning to understand how there’s a real difference.

As white people, are we guilty of the sins of our forefathers? No, I don’t think so.

But are we responsible for them? Yes, I believe we are.


And if you agree with that, there's really only one course of action, the one he goes on to outline.
No, he's no Ph.D in sociology, but that actually makes this essay all the more valuable for an awful lot of people.
posted by martin q blank at 7:57 PM on April 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


Huh. My company built his dad’s church. It’s crazy nice.

I feel like I can relate to his delayed understanding of white privilege. Growing up in Iowa, the message that racism was wrong was definitely instilled in me. As a kid, the message was that it is wrong to treat people differently because of their skin.

What wasn’t instilled in me was all the ways that structural racism lifted me up and kept others down. It doesn’t help that in small-town Iowa, black people are not part of the day-to-day reality. They only exist on TV and other media.

As a result, I know I only understood of the black American experience in the simplest, most caricatured manner possible and I don’t think that was too different from the adults around me.

I can’t tell you how mind-bending it was to learn how simplistically wrong I was as an adult. I would say it wasn’t until I was almost 40 before I think I truly grokked how “not being racist” wasn’t enough - that to truly dismantle racism in America we need to actively fight the systems of oppression and hatred that white supremacy built into the fabric of this nation,
posted by Big Al 8000 at 10:07 PM on April 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


filthy light thief: Speaking up is a risk, and not everyone is willing or ready to take that risk. Serious kudos to all players, especially white players who use their privilege, to speak up on this matter.

Re-reading my comment makes me cringe. All players who speak out are at risk of push-back, or not having their contracts renewed, not just white players. Black players are often dismissed as "making it about race," while also being the target of racist comments, with Colin Kaepernick (Wikipedia) being the most visible face of this.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:02 AM on April 9, 2019 [3 favorites]


Basketball is also much friendlier to this discussion than football, so it is easier to speak out.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 12:26 PM on April 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


Big Al 8000, I’ll agree with you up until a point about basketball vs football when it comes to being more open to activism. However, that point is Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, and no amount of the NBA trying to position itself as the more socially conscious league will do much until how he was treated is formally addressed.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:06 PM on April 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


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