Black Lives Matter: NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar explains George Floyd protests, looting amid COVID-19 pandemic

I did not understand why protesters would antagonize the police to protest against police brutality. For me, it was ironic, futile and counterproductive.

I believe in protesting but in a peaceful way especially when the goal is to end violence. For me, if we want peace, then we should start it.

Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and David McAtee, who are all African-Americans, were killed by police officers, white police officers. The killings took place during the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It is surprising that such killings still happen in 2020. The Black Lives Matter movement started in 2013 and racism has existed from time immemorial.

I am one with the protesters who demand police reform now but I disagree with the decisions of those who hurt the police officers who had nothing to do with the deaths of Arbery, Taylor, Floyd and McAttee. I disagree with the looting, as well. Were they just taking advantage of the opportunity since most establishments are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and most cops are busy dealing with the riots?

Thanks to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, many of my questions related to the recent Black Lives Matter protests have been answered. The op-ed written by the African-American basketball legend, who played for the National Basketball Association from 1969 to 1989, on the Los Angeles Times is a must-read.

I still do not believe that protesters should be violent against police officers in an effort to end police brutality and I certainly do not think looting during the protests is necessary. But at least I understand why these are happening now.

Here are five important explanations from Abdul-Jabbar. I let him do the explaining himself by quoting sentences from his op-ed.

1. The black community has peacefully protested against violence for a long time already but efforts were futile.

“The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness — write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change — the needle hardly budges.”

Ahmaud Arbery

Ahmaud Arbery


2. As compared to their white counterparts, Black Americans suffer more during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“…COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting.”

Breona Taylor

Breona Taylor


3. There is no way people protesting against the killings of Arbery, Taylor, Floyd and McAtee would still consider social distancing, which the government requires to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“..maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.”

George Floyd

George Floyd


4. People who are suffocated will do whatever it takes just to be able to breathe.

“What you should see when you see black protesters in the age of Trump and coronavirus is people pushed to the edge, not because they want bars and nail salons open, but because they want to live. To breathe.”


5. We cannot understand the actions of black protesters if we are blinded by our privileges that stem from the fact that we are not black.

“…what you see when you see black protesters depends on whether you’re living in that burning building or watching it on TV with a bowl of corn chips in your lap waiting for “NCIS” to start.”

95 replies »

  1. Comment number 5 has to be the most racist and divisive comment I have ever heard. I can’t possibly understand what you are going through because of the color of my skin? Do you think I am just sitting back and watching this crap on TV? Do you think that, because my skin is white, I live in the lap of luxury? That I have “white privilege” (another offensive and racist term) so this doesn’t concern me? I have people I know who are black who are posting on Facebook that these riots are actually justified. That hurting innocent people and burning down buildings is an appropriate response to a black man being killed by a white cop or even many black men being killed by white cops. If ANY other group of people was to go around doing what these people are doing, they would be labeled domestic terrorists, not civil rights protesters. You are right about one thing: I do not know what it is to be black. But neither do you know what it was like to be me and what I went through all my life.

    The bottom line is violence begets violence. If people are going to start behaving like the law doesn’t apply to them, they better be ready for a proportional response from law enforcement and the military. And for God’s sake, please stop blaming ALL of racism on the President. I am pretty sure it was around before he was.


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