Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown called Donald Trump “unfit to lead” — adding that the President makes “it a lot more acceptable for racists to speak their minds” and it’s “scary” he’s in charge of the military — during a wide-ranging interview published Tuesday.
The 21-year-old, while speaking to The Guardian of London — where the Celtics play the 76ers later this week — showed why he is considered among the NBA’s most intelligent and insightful young players while touching on a host of heavy subjects like the polarizing President and race relations in the United States. The two go hand-in-hand, he said.
“Racism definitely exists across America today,” said Brown, who was the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. “Of course it’s changed a lot — and my opportunities are far greater than they would have been 50 years ago. So some people think racism has dissipated or no longer exists. But it’s hidden in more strategic places. You have less people coming to your face and telling you certain things. But [Donald] Trump has made it a lot more acceptable for racists to speak their minds.”
Brown’s thoughts about the connection between sports and racism stand out. The intersection of sports and politics right now can be traced to Colin Kaepernick’s knee, of course, and Brown was deeply moved by the quarterback’s protest.
Jaylen Brown does a deep dive on race relations in the United States.
(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
“It was peaceful and successful,” Brown said. “It made people think. It made people angry. It made people want to talk. Often everybody is comfortable with their role in life and they forget about the people who are uncomfortable. So for Colin to put his career on the line, and sacrifice himself, was amazing. But Colin was fed up with the police brutality and pure racism. He speaks for many people in this country — including me.”
Like Kaepernick, Brown now is getting a lot of attention for his thoughts and ideas, including when he called sports “a mechanism of control” during the interview.
“If people didn’t have sports they would be a lot more disappointed with their role in society,” he told The Guardian. “There would be a lot more anger or stress about the injustice of poverty and hunger. Sports is a way to channel our energy into something positive. Without sports who knows what half of these kids would be doing?
“We’re having some of the same problems we had 50 years ago,” Brown said. “Some things have changed a lot but other factors are deeply embedded in our society. It takes protests like Kaepernick’s to make people uncomfortable and aware of these hidden injustices. People are now a lot more aware, engaged and united in our culture. It takes a special person like Kaepernick to force these changes — because often reporters and fans say: ‘If you’re an athlete I don’t want you to say anything. You should be happy you’re making x amount of money playing sport. You should be saluting America instead of critiquing it.’ That’s our society.”
President Donald Trump
Brown grew up in Georgia, where he experienced one form of racism, and played college ball at Cal, where he learned about another.
“It wounds you,” he said. “But when I got older and went to the University of California [Berkeley] I learnt about a more subtle racism and how it filters across our education system through tracking, hidden curriculums, social stratification and things I had no idea of before. I was really emotional — because one of the most subtle but aggressive ways racism exists is through our education system.”
(Michael Zagaris/Getty Images)
While Brown has never been a Trump fan, he said the petty feud that boiled over between the President and LaVar Ball spoke volumes about Trump.
“He demanded a thank you,” Brown said. “It’s ridiculous. What happened to people doing things out of the generosity of their heart or because it was the right thing to do? There have been multiple situations where it’s been ridiculous but that one was like: ‘OK I’m done. I’m done listening to anything you have to say.’ A 19-year-old kid makes a mistake overseas and [Trump] demands an apology from his dad? I think Trump’s unfit to lead.”
The Celtics will play the 76ers in the NBA London Game 2018 at the O2 Arena later on Thursday.