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Kevin Durant talks racism, oppression, and being black in America

In a recent interview, the reigning Finals MVP eloquently spoke about the difficulties posed to black Americans

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors are a team full of players and coaches willing to speak out about serious issues and social injustices. And few have been more vocal than superstar Kevin Durant.

From criticizing the president, to supporting Colin Kaepernick, Durant has made his voice heard. And, quite frankly, his voice and opinions are very much worth listening to.

Some of Durant’s best sentiments came this week. In a truly phenomenal interview with Logan Murdock of The Mercury News, Durant spoke about racism and oppression, as well as what it means to be a black person in America.

Durant has a unique perspective and experience, and one that he describes powerfully in the interview:

Just kind of seeing how rough it is for an average black man, you know what I’m saying? And on top of that, a black man makes one mistake…I see how far we get pushed down. For me, I kind of grew up in this basketball world, whereas my talent kind of overrides what I look like.

I didn’t have it as rough when it comes to that, as far as social or systematic oppression or any social issues. They didn’t really apply to me because I could put a ball in a basket. Just me saying that kind of woke me up a little bit, like “Damn, that’s all I’m good for?” Like, if I wasn’t a basketball player, what kind of man would they look at me as, you know what I’m saying?

In terms of what value can I bring to you outside of playing basketball. I bring a lot of value to people as far as how I treat them, how I encourage them, how I just try to be a good person to them. I feel there’s like a lot of black men that have those traits, but they often just get stereotyped or judged off of one incident or not given a second chance.

So if I find something that’s empowering to people that look like me, I just try to send a subtle message that I got your back and I hear you and I try to inspire you as much as I can from just being in this world as a black man coming up, even though I was looked at and viewed a little differently for it. But I’m still a black man. I understand where you’re coming from.

Durant touched on many things in the interview, from his childhood on the outskirts of Washington D.C., to the influence of Kaepernick, to the inspiration of Tupac Shakur.

He also talked about the Bay Area. His activism has been much stronger in the last year, and he was asked what knowledge he had of northern California’s political activist history prior to his move there. His answer was fascinating:

I just knew about the Black Panthers, and I knew about so many great, great, intelligent minds always influenced by the Bay. Influenced by Oakland, influenced by Vallejo, San Francisco. Every part of the Bay, from hip-hop culture, music culture, rock and roll, to athletes, to politicians, everything is influenced by the Bay. It has its own style. I knew that, but as far as just coming out here and really feeling free, feeling like you could be yourself, feeling like you can love whatever you want to love and not be judged for it, and not be ridiculed for it, I feel like everybody should want to feel that way, everybody should want to be in that atmosphere. That’s what America is all about. Being out here, it makes me feel that way.

Read the whole interview when you get a chance. This is just a glimmer of some incredible answers. It’s hard not to love Durant and his powerful voice.

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