Heat star Jimmy Butler, teammates recall early experiences with racism in Juneteenth town hall event
Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler shared one of his first experiences with racism during a zoom call to several other teammates on Friday. This was part of the team's effort to commemorate Juneteenth.
This incident, said Butler, left him stunned.
Incident at a Walmart with a 6 year old
On the call, Butler told a story about a time when he and his brother left a Walmart in the Houston area.
Butler was 16 at the time and met a white man and his young son, whom Butler said was "not older than maybe 6".
"I'm going for a walk with my brother and we hear the child turn around and say," Hey dad, these are the N-words you tell me about, "Butler said of ESPN." The child doesn't know better .
"My first reaction was to turn around and look at the father's face ... But the first thing that came to my mind was that you had to teach him that. [The kid] don't know. My daughter "I have to teach her that the oven is hot. You choose to teach your child hatred."
The incident, he said, was "so confusing to me."
Why a parent would teach a child to hate is a mystery to him, Butler said, and it is really the core problem of what is happening across the country.
"For me, that's all that matters. This hatred is taught to everyone and it is very hurtful, ”Butler said of ESPN. "You know the difference between right and wrong. So that this parent teaches his child at this young age, there is no other word for it than wrong.
"This is crazy. This is the world we live in. Now is the time for change."
Other players participate
Butler was not the only one to share his story about the call moderated by heat trainer Erik Spoelstra.
Many of his teammates had similar stories to tell, including Solomon Hill - who said he cut his hair as a kid just because others kept talking about it.
"My first experience [with racism] as a child, to have my hair long, to have a back and forth, I have a different texture than most people and people who just show up and touch my hair as if I were a dog, It's going, "said Hill about ESPN." I could never have imagined walking up to a little white girl and accidentally touching her hair in a mall. It's the opposite of what a black man should ever do, but it was common for people to show up and touch my hair and normalize how different it was. "
The conversations also left some players somewhat uncomfortable.
"These are not easy conversations, especially for a white privileged man," said Meyers Leonard about the Sun Sentinel in South Florida. "I will simply continue my education and continue to learn from my teammates."
Point Guard Goran Dragic felt the same way.
Born in Slovenia, he grew up with racism in his home country, but it was a different kind from what you are now experiencing in the United States.
"When I was young we had war, in our part of the world it was more racism through religion," Dragic said of ESPN.
"I can't imagine how you're doing. As Meyers said, I have white privileges. I dont know. It is really difficult to talk at the moment, but at the same time I can only try to teach myself and teach my children and learn as much as possible. "
Jimmy Heat, the star of Miami Heat, remembers stepping out of a Walmart at 16 and heard a boy call him the N-word. (Patrick McDermott / Getty Images)
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