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NBA Player Will Barton Calls for Revolution Against Racism

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The Nuggets stalwart, a former Trail Blazers player, says t-shirts and temporary protests aren’t enough.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Will Barton is calling for a revolution against racism in the United States. In an interview with Mike Singer of the Denver Post, the Denver Nuggets forward—formerly with the Portland Trail Blazers—says that t-shirts, slogans, and protests aren’t enough. He cites direct action as the way to overcome multiple centuries of systemic oppression.

Singer’s article begins by recalling Barton with the Trail Blazers a half-dozen yeas ago, wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt in remembrance of Eric Garner, who died at the hands of New York City police. Barton states flatly that a repeat of that protest during the NBA season restart next month is not sufficient in the face of continuing deaths and ongoing racism.

“I don’t see us going down there and wearing George Floyd T-shirts before the games and then after a game, being interviewed, saying we need to change,” Barton told The Denver Post in a wide-ranging interview. “I’ll tell you right now, I don’t really see that helping. I feel like it’s too late in the ballgame. We’ve been going through this for 400-plus years now. I feel like the only way for real change is going to come is a revolution.”

Singer points out that Barton is not calling for violence, but wants white America to consider a hypothetical question:

“If Black people in America were to say today, ‘We’re going to war. We’re going to war, not with white people, (but) with racist America. Would you stand and fight with Black people against racists or would you be out of the way? Would you put your life on the line for a black person for what’s right or what’s wrong?”

The article continues through discussion of Orlando plans, Barton’s thoughts on Kyrie Irving trying to bring racial justice to the fore among players, and how sports sometimes diverts attention from the issue despite the league’s assurance that combating racism will be part of its platform during the restart.

The article is striking and worth a read.