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Pelicans’ Stan Van Gundy Pens “Who Are We Going to Be” About Racial Injustice & Equality

Pictured Left to Right: New Orleans Pelicans Coach Stan Van Gundy, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson & legendary coach John Thompson | Source: @realStanVG Twitter

(By Stan Van Gundy for Players Tribune)

We’d just had a really tough loss a couple of nights before the Capitol riot went down, so to tell you the truth, I was in a bad mood that week. But when I woke up the morning of January 6, the first thing I saw was the result from one of Georgia’s runoff elections. Raphael Warnock had won, becoming the first Black senator from Georgia. 

I thought, Hey, this is great. There’s actually some good news today. 

Then, by lunchtime, it’d all fallen apart.

After that morning’s walkthrough, I came home to have lunch with my wife and son, who was visiting from Michigan. And they had CNN on.

I think if I could sum up my first thought it was something like, Look how broken this country is.

Our country’s divides have become so deep, so extreme that it’s actually radicalized people. I mean, really think about that. It’s brought people to the point where they’re out for blood.

When I looked at my TV, I saw a lot of craziness. But the one thing that really struck me was seeing a sign that said, “Take Back OUR Country!” 

I think we gotta do some soul searching here and really ask ourselves who those people mean by “our,” and who they want to take the country “back” from.

After the riot, I listened to a lot of political leaders say things like, “Yeah, this was really bad, but our democracy has survived before, and it will survive again.” 

I think that’s naive. And that’s the same kind of naivete that got us here in the first place.

That’s why I wanted to write this. 

I see people getting excited that there’s a new President, and I think that’s great. Really. But it’s a little premature for a sigh of relief.

We can’t waste an opportunity to actually reckon with the racism and hatred that’s been building in this country, long before any individual president took office.

We have to ask ourselves some hard questions. 

When people are carrying signs saying, “Take back OUR country,” what do they really want? They want to go back to a time when they had certain privileges that others didn’t.

And I don’t know how to bridge that. I want unity too, but that’s not something we can just “look past our differences” on.

Our country is entrenched in a battle where on one side, people are fighting for equality, and on the other side, people are fighting for the status and privilege they see slipping away. I think those people are in the minority. But as we all saw on our TV screens, that minority is fairly large and extremely intense.

We are truly in a fight for the essence of this country and who we’re going to be, and we’re nowhere near agreeing on that. And I don’t think something magical is going to happen to fix it. I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but this really feels like the most serious risk this country’s faced in my lifetime.

So, if you haven’t said anything yet, it’s time to ask yourself, where am I? That’s what I’ve been asking myself. 

And not just where am I now? Where was I 20, 30, 40 years ago? Because it’s not like these problems didn’t exist back then. It’s time for this country to decide how much more of this we’ll tolerate.

Who are we going to be?

Read the rest here.

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