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Condemning acts of racial discrimination and oppression

To the Editor:

“We keep loving this country, but this country doesn’t love us back.” These words recently were expressed by Doc Rivers, the black head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, in the wake of another controversial shooting of an unarmed black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Rivers believes that professional athletes of good conscience should use their platforms to protest social and racial injustices throughout the country. After all, Colin Kaepernick reminded us of the importance of this after he gained national prominence for taking a knee during the singing of the National Anthem in 2016.

Now, many players in the NBA, WNBA, MLB, and MLS, chose not to take part in some games as a boycott to address the racial oppression and injustices around police brutality and excessive force against people of color.

Similarly, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did not compete for the 1968 Olympic basketball team, while at UCLA.

In any event, Rusten Sheskey was arrested for shooting Jacob Blake multiple times in the back at close range. Sheskey argues that there was a knife on the floorboard of Blake’s car. There were many options the Kenosha police could have used to avoid shooting this man. Why didn’t they pull Blake away from his car door or just shut his door? What about mace or a taser?

Though half of the people shot and killed by police are white, Blacks, who constitute 13 percent of the U.S. population, are shot disproportionately at more than twice the rate of whites (Washington Post). Moreover, we witnessed how white vigilantes with long guns in Kenosha were shown deference by police while Blacks with such guns often are killed by the police out of fear.

Yes, Black lives do matter.

We must pursue substantive policy and legislative changes to address the aforesaid racial injustices. Additionally, we have a moral obligation — and I know this as a former president of the Pitt County Southern Christian Leadership Conference — to speak truth to power and condemn acts of racial discrimination and oppression within the context of the teachings and examples of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Keith W. Cooper

Greenville