By Marjua Estevez
In the new issue of ESPN magazine, Carmelo Anthony talks more about systemic racism and police violence than he does basketball. Following the death of Baltimore’s Freddie Gray in April 2015, the NBA superstar felt it his civic duty to make a stand against the extrajudicial murders occurring disproportionately in black and brown communities.
After participating in ads against gun violence, and building basketball courts across Brooklyn, Baltimore and Puerto Rico, Anthony followed those lesser known acts of social change with a grand opening at the 2016 ESPY awards where he was joined by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul to challenge fellow athletes to speak up on behalf of the injustices affecting people of color.
Carmelo, whose late father Carmelo Iriarte was also an activist and a member of Puerto Rican nationalist group the Young Lords, is entering his 14th NBA season during a time of national unrest. Realizing his power as a professional athlete and toast of the sports world, Melo sits down with ESPN in an interview that aims to unpack racial politics concerning police violence, and the many variables at play behind a broken system.
The system is broken. It trickles down. It’s the education. You’ve got to be educated to know how to deal with police. The police have to be educated on how to deal with people. The system has to put the right police in the right situations. Like, you can’t put white police in the ‘hood. You just can’t do that. They don’t know how to react. They don’t know how to respond to those different situations. They’ve never been around that, you know? When I was growing up, we knew police by their first name. We gave them the nicknames. But that’s only because we related. And when the white police came into our neighborhood, the black police said, “Yo, we got this.” That doesn’t happen anymore. You got black police afraid to go into black communities now, and the white police are like, “Shit, I’ll come. It’s a job. I’ll go in there and do it.” Not knowing what’s going to happen.
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