San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says he’s “embarrassed as a white person,” to watch the way George Floyd was killed in the streets of Minneapolis. He also said the killing was a “lynching,” and said that the burden must now shift to white people to identify instances of racism.
“In a strange, counterintuitive sort of way, the best teaching moment of this recent tragedy, I think, was the look on the officer’s face,” Popovich said in an emotional video released by the Spurs as part of their #SpursVoices series on social media. “For white people to see how nonchalant, how casual, just how everyday-going-about-his job, so much so that he could just put his left hand in his pocket, wriggle his knee around a little bit to teach this person some sort of a lesson — and that it was his right and his duty to do it, in his mind.
“I don’t know. … I think I’m just embarrassed as a white person to know that that can happen. To actually watch a lynching. We’ve all seen books, and you look in the books and you see black people hanging off of trees. And you … are amazed. But we just saw it again. I never thought I’d see that, with my own eyes, in real time.”
“It’s got to be us that speak truth to power, that call it out no matter the consequences. We have to not let anything go. Our country is in trouble and the basic reason is race.”#SpursVoices pic.twitter.com/uTyOIzGnTg
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) June 6, 2020
Former police officer Derek Chauvin faces second-degree murder charges after he placed his knee on the neck of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The incident was captured on video and led to more than a week of riots and protests across the country.
“It’s like the neighborhood where you know there’s a dangerous corner, and you know that something’s going to happen someday, and nobody does anything,” Popovich explained. “And then a young kid gets killed and a stop sign goes up. Well, without getting too political, we’ve got a lot of stop signs that need to go up — quickly — because our country is in trouble. And the basic reason is race.”
Popovich believes that the burden of calling out racism must now shift to “white people.”
“We have to do it. Black people have been shouldering this burden for 400 years,” Popovich said. “The only reason this nation has made the progress it has is because of the persistence, patience and effort of black people. The history of our nation from the very beginning in many ways was a lie, and we continue to this day, mostly black and brown people, to try to make that lie a truth so that it is no longer a lie. And those rights and privileges are enjoyed by people of color, just like we enjoy them. So it’s got to be us, in my opinion, that speak truth to power, and call it out, no matter what the consequences. We have to speak. We have to not let anything go.”
Of course, Abe Lincoln and the anti-slavery Republican party that he represented had something to do with the “progress” that has been made on race in this country. Though, Popovich is either unaware of or disinclined to admit that bit of history.
Popovich closes with a comparison between the current racial crisis and gun control.
“It’s just a situation that is very similar to me,” he said. “… What’s it going to take? Two few more black people with knees in their necks? I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s going to happen. How many more Sandy Hooks do we have to have? It’s easy for people to let things go, because it doesn’t involve them.”
Popovich is a frequent critic of President Trump. Most recently he called the president a “deranged idiot.”
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn