In a month, the Los Angeles Lakers are expected to travel to Orlando to compete for their 17th title, which would put them even with the Boston Celtics for the most championships in NBA history. However, there has been concern from within the team that the resumption of the season will distract from the ongoing fight for equality in justice in the United States.
In an effort to address those concerns, the Lakers hired Dr. Karida Brown as their new Director of Racial Equity & Action.
Brown, an African American Studies and Sociology professor at UCLA, talked about her new role with the team and what she hopes to accomplish during an appearance on ESPN LA 710’s “The Morning Show” on Monday:
“Well, you know, it all starts with education. We don’t know what we don’t know, right? So to get to this point, where the Lakers have committed to transitioning from a non-racist organization, to an anti-racist organization, that is a huge statement, but it comes with a lot of work.
“That’s a journey, and I am committed to taking that very first step, which is immediately institutionalizing an educational component within the organization so that we can all get our minds right in terms of laying out the issues, the vocabulary that is necessary to describe what we are all faced with and encountering in this moment, and to have the analytical frame to really make that change that we say that we want to make.
“Our school systems for the most part don’t do that, in terms of giving us an adequate racial education to understand how systemic racism and anti-black racism operates in this country, so how can we expect an organization to automatically know how to do so?”
Brown explained the difference between a person or organization that “non-racist” between ones that are “anti-racist” in an interview with Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times last week:
Brown defined nonracist as being rooted in a “colorblind mindset” in which someone says “I don’t see race, I just see people” and have good intentions toward a “fellow human being.” She defined antiracist as to “insist upon seeing race” and be willing to take “an affirmative position that is against racism.”
Brown is committed to making the Lakers an anti-racist organization, and she outlined how she plans to do that on “The Morning Show”:
“So for me, the first thing that I did was get together a curriculum and instill an educational component that involves a speaker series, where I will be bringing in a lineup of the leading scholars that are working on the issues of systemic racism and anti-black racism as it relates to public health, police violence, how we’re seeing health inequities as they relate to coronavirus. So getting everybody up to speed on that from an educational front is the first step.
“And then we’ve got to open up the hood, and look in the organization and see a lot of what the Lakers are doing right already, because the staff is quite diverse from an organizational standpoint from within.”
The Lakers have had some of the most influential athletes in the world don their purple and gold jersey — from LeBron James to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — but it’s crucial that the team stands in solidarity with their athletes, especially during a time in history like this one. Brown’s hiring, or something similar to it, was probably long overdue, but it’s necessary, and hopefully the Lakers set the standard here for the rest of the league to follow.