“You keep thinking about it, you get more and more angry when you look at it. ”
His anger did not subside in the weeks following the death of Floyd – May 25 under the knee of a police officer who was arresting in Minneapolis, Minnesota – as protests against his The dead became the scene of new police violence against the demonstrators.
Ujiri referred to a video that captured two officers from Buffalo, N.Y., pushing a 75-year-old protester to the ground where he was bleeding as other police officers passed by.
“I don’t care if you are a police officer or whoever you are, you are a human being,” Ujiri told Galloway.
“If you see an old man bleeding from his ear, pick up his ass – that’s what we do as humans,” he said.
“To me it is a human being, and it is time that we talk about how humanity is in our society, because it is a very, very big thing that we have to address. ”
Since Floyd’s death, the first protests against police brutality have turned into demonstrations and conversations about systemic racism in all areas of life, including the media and the education system.
“It looks like there is something different in the air this time,” said Ujiri.
It’s a moment, he says, “for everyone to look in the mirror” and ask “Who are you as a person? ”
“Black people are tired, Aboriginal people are tired … everyone is tired – I call it that – the white race is considered the superior race.
Tackling racism “at all levels”
A year ago this week, the Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. But when Ujiri tried to join his team on the pitch at this time of triumph, he was stopped by a deputy sheriff working in safety during the match, who said that Ujiri had not provided credentials appropriate in the field.
A match followed and was partially captured by the camera.
In February, Sheriff’s assistant, Alan Strickland, filed a complaint alleging that Ujiri had caused him “great mental, physical, emotional and psychological pain and suffering,” but the team chairman dismissed the case. as “malicious”. In a document filed in April in a California district court, Ujiri alleges that Strickland assaulted him.
“In fact, I consider him as nothing, and he as no one for me, because, firstly, he will not prevent me from being who I am and the person I am,” he told Galloway. .
“Second, I can’t imagine how many people are going through this and it’s not in front of the camera,” he said.
“Imagine how many of these things happen and no one sees it, no one ever hears the story. ”
Ujiri said he wants Canada to “call a spade a spade” when it comes to racism, and for leadership that calls for it in all types of organizations.
“We have police problems, we have so many institutional problems, but racism is at the heart of this matter, and we must deal with it now,” he said.
“It happens at all levels and wherever you are as a leader … when you see these things happening, call them,” he said.
This leadership can start with our young people, he said.
“The only thing we want young people to know now is that they are the ones who are going to change that,” Ujiri told Galloway.
“We say we can’t change a lot of people 50 or 60, but these young people, they can determine what the future is. ”
Young people have “a unique time” to change the world
The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted graduation ceremonies for many young people this year, but the Ujiri’s Giants of Africa organization is leading an initiative to help make it a special moment for those leaving grade 8.
At participating schools, students receive graduation gift boxes including a basketball, t-shirt and gift cards, including face masks and baskets of food.
“It’s just a small form of telling them that we are thinking of them,” he said.
“This is a good time to communicate with them in a positive way and give them a sense of hope, a sense of pride.
While sympathizing with students who will not get the full graduation experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ujiri urged them not to “view this moment as negative.”
“I think it’s a unique moment that they can really enjoy. No matter how they graduate, they are always the future, “he said.
“It’s time to dream big, be bold and think about life differently, especially with all the times we’re going through. “
Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Idella Sturino.