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Monday, March 25, 2019

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


While scores of players have registered their disgust with Donald Trump, professional coaches across three of the four major sports leagues have remained largely silent. The NBA has proven a welcome exception. Both the Golden State Warriors’ Steve Kerr and the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich have made headlines for their righteous screeds, the latter calling the president a “soulless coward.”

Stan Van Gundy has previously called Trump “brazenly racist,” but this week he did himself and his fellow coaches one better by coming to the defense of one of the commander-in-chief’s favorite targets: athletes who protest the National Anthem. In a stirring essay for Time that deserves to be read in its entirety, the Detroit Pistons head coach argues that Colin Kaepernick, Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos are some of our country’s greatest patriots.

“Honoring America has to mean much, much more than standing at attention for a song (one which, by the way, contains racist language in later verses),” he writes. “One of the most important freedoms that our military has fought for over two-plus centuries is the freedom of speech. When these professional athletes protest during the anthem, they are exercising one of the very freedoms for which our military men and women fought so valiantly, thus honoring our highest values and, in turn, those who have fought for them.”

Van Gundy reveals that reading Tears We Cannot Stop; A Sermon to White America inspired him to invite renowned historian and author Michael Eric Dyson to speak to his team. The talk has remained with him, particularly Dyson’s message that protest has always been a catalyst for social progress.

“And it has always made people uncomfortable,” he continues. “This was true of the abolitionists, the women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement, all of which shined a bright and needed light on injustice, demanded that our country live up to its stated ideals and produced our most meaningful change.”

Van Gundy formally lends his support to the Player Coalition, a group of approximately 40 NFL players past and present who are working to achieve meaningful criminal justice reform. Their agenda is ambitious; they hope to ameliorate harsh sentencing guidelines, enact clean-slate laws, abolish cash bail, reform the juvenile court system, and eliminate racial bias and brutality in local police departments.

“I stand with these athletes—in support of both these causes and their patriotism,” he concludes. “They are working to make America live up to its stated ideals. We should all join them in ensuring their collective voice is heard.”

Read Stan Van Gundy’s essay at Time.

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.


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4 responses to “In Powerful Essay, Pistons Coach Van Gundy Backs Kneeling Athletes”

  1. I think we all should thank Van Grundy, and others like him, for daring to be public in such an emotional way about the complacency of so many in America when it comes to racism.

    This same complacency has led men for centuries to think that women are chattel to be used and abused as men desire; for many “Africans” with white complexion to dismiss their cousins whose evolutionary path led them to retain a darker complexion; has allowed greed and ambition to grow to dangerous proportions.

    As for those who have sometimes questioned public protests—for example, when women and men en masse protested against Donald Trump during his inauguration. Some of you openly questioned whether it was worth the effort. Well, had it not been for the sit-ins and sacrifice of life, by brave protesters—white and black—during the Civil Rights Era, Jim Crow may still be ion the books in many parts of the country today.

    Baha’u’llah arose with a new Message emphasizing the necessity for eliminating all forms of prejudices in Iran when the country had sunk to the lowest abyss in its glorious history, announcing that the Institution of Slavery has been formally annulled, that all humanity was of One Family, boldly abolished the institution of the Clergy, and openly proclaimed in a male-dominated environment that women and men are equal in the sight of God, calling for their inclusion in the affairs of Iranian society at every level, and dared to say that Islam was not the last religion, but was a “seal” on the Adamic Cycle, and that religion would continue to be revealed after Islam—these admonitions and annulments were a death sentence for His predecessor, The Bab, who paved the way for the appearance of Baha’u’llah. The Bab could have remained silent, or could have worked underground and behind the scenes in a rabidly fanatical Muslim society in Persia, but instead put His life on the line so that humanity might begin the process of stepping up to a higher level of consciousness. He was tortured, imprisoned in Maku, and faced a firing squad of over 700 soldiers, before his body was riddled and torn to bits by the volley—ON THE 2ND ATTEMPT!. The first attempt by another regiment missed the mark entirely, an event recorded by European diplomats on hand in the city of Tabriz to witness the execution.

    Today, we aren’t required to face a firing squad, or to be blown out of cannons, which the early Baha;’is had to endure. They could easily have capitulated by simply saying that they would recant their belief in Baha’u’llah, but the Baha’is refused.

    And having a white male speak out so boldly against racism, by citing his support for Colin, is just another way of showing courage and conviction. This speaks volumes on behalf of black citizens in America–and indeed, affects people abroad who hear and read about events in America and about who raises her/his voice against injustice.

    • dbtheonly says:


      Lincoln was unarguable when he asked, if I can enslave someone merely because his skin is darker than mine, then does someone whose skin is lighter than mine have the right to enslave me?

      Just for it, protests are fine, but voting is more effective. Protesting doesn’t accomplish anything if you don’t get out and vote in people who respect the issue being protested.

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  2. johninPCFL says:

    I wonder where Patrick “the dumbshit” Henry is. He’d usually be losing his mind over this kind of article.

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