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Draymond Green takes a stand by wearing RISE’s ‘Sideline Racism’ shoes for MLK Day

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The heart of the Warriors’ team follows in the activist footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to end racial injustice and inequality.

Sean Nalaboff

Draymond Green will sport golden “sideline racism” kicks at each game this week, starting with the eagerly-awaited rematch against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday — Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Green is wearing the shoes in support of RISE (the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality), a nonprofit started in 2015 by Miami Dolphins’ owner/real estate mogul Stephen Ross. RISE’s mission is to “[harness] the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress.”

This isn’t Green’s first time stepping into new shoes as a way to combat racism. In December, the NFL permitted its players to wear special cleats in support of their various causes during all Week 13 games. Although the defensive wizard for the Warriors plays in an entirely different sport and league, he joined the NFL players by wearing yellow-and-blue Nike “sideline racism” high tops on December 3rd in a game against the Phoenix Suns.

In a twist of apropos irony, Green totaled a game-high 14 assists during the contest.

Draymond Green via Twitter

But the NBA at-large is a strong contributor to the RISE cause. Green sits on the advisory board, as does teammate Stephen Curry. NBA commissioner Adam Silver serves on the board of directors.

The rise of RISE

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross, in an effort to combat racism, aimed to “[create] a grassroots campaign to educate children through sports that bullying and slurs are not ok,” according to Crain’s Detroit Business.

RISE’s founding was a direct response to former Dolphins’ player Jonathan Martin’s retirement from the NFL after enduring racist bullying that led to multiple suicide attempts throughout his NFL career. In service of its anti-racist goal, the organization has used a combination of public service messages through social media and public panel discussions as well as a curriculum focused on race and civility for high school and college students.

Since its inception, RISE has established itself in 12 states and connected with athletes across professional sports. RISE most recently opened a field office in Michigan — the home state of both Green and Ross — with four sports teams soon to play in Detroit. Considering all that has gone on in Michigan economically, educationally, environmentally and politically — specifically, the ongoing Flint water crisis — it is an ideal place to build a fight against racism in the US.

Draymond Green joins a growing movement of athletes willing to speak out about racism in their communities. Green supported Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem, saying, “There’s people’s lives out here being taken, and somebody wants to criticize what Colin’s doing?”

Stephen Ross was the only NFL owner to support Kaepernick, encouraging other athletes to speak up about important political issues.

Warriors with a dream

Green’s activism has special meaning on this Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Dr. King, winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964 in the field of human rights, famously stated:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Clearly, much work is left to be done.

Continuing Dr. King’s unfinished work to combat racism will be on the minds of many members of the Warriors’ community today, and beyond. Expect the entire Warriors’ organization to continue to express their misgivings about the current state of our nation — the way Green is doing today with the RISE “sideline racism” campaign, and the way Coach Steve Kerr and players David West and Andre Iguodala have in the past.

Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, just four years after winning the Nobel Prize for Peace. Hateful racists killed the man, but Dr. King’s words live on eternal. They assassinated the person, but it would be impossible for them to snuff out Dr. King’s ideas, which continue to permeate the fabric of this society so deeply.

“All people should be able to stand up and make their voices heard,” Green said in a statement to Golden State of Mind through his publicist. “I'm using my voice to support RISE and raise awareness for racial equality in all communities. Every person, regardless of their race, deserves respect and dignity."

In celebration of his life and legacy, let us remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s contributions to humanity and a dream that has not yet been achieved but remains very much alive.

To read Dr. King’s famous speech (courtesy of the National Archives), click HERE.

To support the dream and help “sideline racism,” take the RISE pledge to:

  • treat everyone with respect and dignity;
  • not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind;
  • speak up whenever discrimination is happening; and
  • stand up for victims.

Click here to sign the pledge: http://risetowin.org/takethepledge.


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