Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant says Colin Kaepernick’s protests changed his perspective on race in sports and he has experienced a shift in racial identity over the past 18 months.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Mercury News that was published Monday morning, Durant said Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality “definitely put me in a different place” and helped lead to a shift in self-identity.
He brought something out of people that they’d been hiding for a long, long time that needed to be revealed. I’d rather you tell me that you don’t like me because of my skin than hide that (stuff). So he kind of touched a nerve and the outrage from it made me a fan of him just because he decided to take all that on, but also tell a message of, ‘Yo man. Just treat us fair, treat us equal, we’re people too. We’re not less than you because we don’t look like you’.
The NBA Finals MVP also touched on what it was like growing up near Washington D.C. and how his ability to play basketball kept him off the streets at a young age while his friends were getting into drugs and hanging around the wrong crowds.
Man, as a basketball player, it’s a thing in my neighborhood. Like, East Coast, if you’re a basketball player, people know you as that, they know you’re focusing on basketball. Nobody really tried to get me to be in the street life because I was either always walking to the gym or I was always in the gym.
What Kevin Durant said was not revolutionary. It was neither defiant nor beautifully worded. But it was unwavering in how he views himself and black people in the context of the American society.