Now is time for action. The Toronto Raptors must be supported by the media and fans for their stance and actions in support of equity and justice reform.
The sports world is no longer satisfied to just “shut up and dribble”. The Milwaukee Bucks made the bold decision not to play their game on Wednesday, which made waves throughout North America. Now the Toronto Raptors are faced with a decision on whether they will follow their lead.
The Raptors have proven themselves to be leaders in social justice with myriad actions including the creation of the position of Vice-President, Organizational Culture and Inclusion. One should expect to see some action by this team who have dedicated themselves to stand up for inclusion, equity, and political reform.
The Bucks made the very difficult decision to protest and draw attention to the shooting by Kenosha Police of an unarmed black man in Washington, Jacob Blake. Blake’s attorney has explained that his client was shot in the back seven times after “breaking up a fight between two women“. He is currently in intensive care after undergoing surgery.
The Raptors haven’t yet decided what they will do to show that black lives matter. No matter what they choose to do, they need to be supported. The Bucks took a big risk in deciding to boycott a playoff game. They did so to fight for change, call for justice, and stand up against racism. Whatever the Raptors do to stand in solidarity, it’s bigger than basketball.
Chris Webber from NBA on TNT explained that change is needed now. He asked, “How traumatic is it for kids in Milwaukee, in Detroit to watch the news and know they could be killed?” These young men in the NBA have used their platform to show kids that there are prominent figures who care enough to take action. Toronto youth may see the Raptors’ next moves as a representation of them.
Nick Nurse addressed the media on Wednesday and said that the players “want to be part of a solution. They want to help. They want justice. They want this particular problem to be handled in a much better way.” The team has talked about boycotting Thursday’s opening matchup against the Boston Celtics and it’s possible that the players will choose to leave the bubble to continue the boycott. This could put the remainder of the NBA playoffs in jeopardy.
As an organization, the Raptors very clearly showed their unity with the Bucks. They tweeted, “We stand with our brothers” while retweeting Milwaukee’s statement.
Actions speak louder than words and now more than ever, the NBA is taking action. The boycotts will hopefully inspire change and work to end systemic racism. With more attention paid, the pressure will mount on officials across the continent to modify racist and discriminatory policies and laws.
No matter what the Toronto Raptors choose to do going forward, they will hopefully have the support of the City of Toronto, their fans, and the media.