Jazz, Pelicans, Lakers and Clippers players kneeled during the national anthem last night. Though that protest – against racism, particularly through police brutality – remains powerful, it has lost some resonance in the years since Colin Kaepernick first did it. People have normalized seeing it, and the most effective peaceful protests spark more of a visceral reaction.
So, Jazz star Donovan Mitchell found a new way to capture attention – wearing a bulletproof vest (covered in names of people killed by police) to his game.
— Jeremy Christopher (@Jeromice12) July 30, 2020
Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report:
A statement – Donovan Mitchell has a bullet proof vest.
The vest features the name of numerous people killed because of police brutality.
He adds the quote “Am I next?” pic.twitter.com/wUp1QYYNQk
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) July 31, 2020
There was a quote that really said “Am I next?” on the back of somebody’s jersey. And I think the biggest thing is, it doesn’t matter how much money or it doesn’t matter how famous you are. As an African-American male, that’s who we are. It doesn’t matter what your job is, what your name is. And I think being able to wear a bulletproof vest just shows – and I kind of had my hands up as well, just kind of like look, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” We’re tired of seeing this. We’re tired. We’re tired, and everybody’s tired of it. So for me, to make that statement, I think was just something I really wanted to do. And I think as African Americans, male or female, we’re sick and tired of being afraid.
What a remarkable image – Mitchell arriving to work, listening to headphones, carrying a cup of coffee… and wearing a bulletproof vest.
Black men face a 1 in 1,000 chance of being killed by police during their lifetimes, according to a recent study. That is an incredibly high number! Many more black men have stories of being harassed by police, fearing they’ll be the next statistic.
There are numerous reasons for the problem – from overly intrusive laws to actions of individual police officers and many factors in between. They all should be addressed. First, Americans must recognize the scope of the problem.
Mitchell certainly used his platform well to raise attention to the issue.