Raptors president Masai Ujiri — who was born and raised in Nigeria — had a message for Donald Trump on Friday, after the president made derogatory comments about immigration earlier this week: “If I grew up in a s–thole, I am proud of my s–thole.”
During an Oval Office meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers, an enraged Trump questioned why the U.S. should accept immigrants from Haiti and “s–thole countries” in Africa, according to multiple reports. On Friday, Trump denied specifically using those words but admitted his language was “tough,” while Sen. Dick Durbin charged that Trump “said those hateful things, and he said them repeatedly.”
“This summer, I went to Kigali, and Nairobi and Lagos, and I went to Kampala and Abidjan and Dakar and Johannesburg and I saw great cities, and great people,” Ujiri told ESPN. “And I went to visit the refugee camp in Dadaab, and I met good people and good families with plenty of hope. If those places are being referred to as s–tholes, go visit those places, and go meet those people.”
The 47-year-old, who became the first African-born NBA GM in 2010 with the Nuggets, added that he doesn’t believe Trump’s remarks are “what inspiring leadership can be.”
Raptors president Masai Ujiri doesn’t believe Donald Trump is inspiring hope.
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
“What sense of hope are we giving people if you are calling where they live — and where they’re from — a s–thole?
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the United States and Canada and I am grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given by people, and the game of basketball, and the NBA. As leaders, I think we have to give people in many places a chance to have success, not continue to put those people down.
“We have to inspire people and give them a sense of hope. We need to bring people along, not ridicule and tear them down. This cannot be the message that we accept from the leader of the free world.
Ujiri said that “just because someone lives in a hut” or any different kind of home doesn’t mean that person isn’t a good person or capable of greatness.
“God doesn’t put anyone someplace permanently. I am a living testimony to that. If I grew up in a s–thole, I am proud of my s–thole.”