Gwinn: Despite All His Achievements Against the Odds, Kevin Durant Sees Black People As ‘Pushed Down’

AP Ben Margot KD
AP Photo/Ben Margot

Despite being perhaps the living embodiment of what one can do if he sets his mind and body to a disciplined pursuit of a worthy goal, Golden State forward Kevin Durant, who is black, looks down from his lofty perch high atop the NBA world, and sees oppression.

In a recent interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Durant spoke about his arrival in the Bay Area and how that helped him arrive at an epiphany, about being black in America.

When asked to elaborate on this realization, Durant described it as, “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.”

Strange how Durant’s “epiphany,” or awakening on the struggles that confront the average black man seemed to have a 29-year delayed onset. Durant was born in 1988 during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic in Washington, D.C. Back when Washington was not just the nation’s capital, but the murder rate capital of the country. One would think that given those environs, Durant would have acquired a healthy understanding of the plight facing the average black man, at a very young age.

However, as Durant tells the San Jose Mercury News, “…I was either always walking to the gym or I was always in the gym.” So, Durant missed all that, apparently.

Though, a more likely explanation for Durant’s delayed racial awakening can probably be attributed to another famous Bay Area athlete, Colin Kaepernick.

Durant said Colin Kaepernick’s protests greatly changed his outlook:

It definitely put me in a different place because we just started talking about stuff that’s always been going on. You tend to just focus on what you know, or focus on what you do every day, and sometimes you can be so far removed from where you grew up or from home that you don’t realize what’s going on back there. That’s not because you’re not woke, or you’re not involved. You want to set that aside because you see a better life and you want to focus on that, but you also have to realize that you left home for a reason. So you kind of bring something back so you can help elevate where you come from.

When asked what he thought when seeing Kaepernick’s protests, Durant said:

You just see he touched something in people that we didn’t know was there. I posted a picture of him on my Instagram, and the comments under that were ridiculous. The stuff that people were saying about him over that was ridiculous. 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 sh-t. 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.”

This statement is absolutely horrifying. Durant is essentially saying that he became a fan of Kaepernick because his protests revealed America’s true racist nature. And how did the protests reveal America’s true racist nature? Because some people on Instagram wrote nasty comments.

You could spend all of this week Googling to your heart’s content, and you will find no more millennial a statement than this. Looking at Instagram comments and extrapolating that they represent the opinions of an entire race, or culture, might just be the most millennial thing ever. The statement is also at least borderline racist, Durant makes a sweeping generalization about an entire group of people based on the actions of a relative few.

When people with light complexions do that about people with dark complexions, that gets called racist.

It also shows the depths to which Durant only focuses on the facts that confirm his own political bias. Colin Kaepernick’s birth mother is white, he was adopted by a white family, given a college scholarship by a white coach, drafted into the NFL by a white coach, and given millions of dollars to play a game by a football team owned by a white family.

Yet, in Durant’s view, those people must not represent real America. Instead, the idiot on Instagram is selected to represent real America because that’s easier to reconcile with the radical, leftist agenda that Durant seems intent on gaining the approval of.

Durant also took a moment to wonder what his life would be like if he wasn’t a basketball player, and hadn’t been protected from the negative elements in D.C. that he could have otherwise fallen in with.

“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,” Durant said. “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?”

Well, it’s hard to say exactly how Durant would be viewed if he wasn’t a basketball player. However, as one commenter said, “…if he went to medical school, he’d be viewed as “Dr. Durant.” If he became a judge he’d be viewed as “your honor.” If he became a military officer, he’d be viewed as “Sir.” And if he held up liquor stores, he’d be viewed as “Defendant.”

In other words, Kevin Durant would determine how he is viewed. But however he would be viewed, he would be judged based on his actions and accomplishments, not based on his race.

I don’t know Kevin Durant, but, like him, I did grow up in Washington, D.C. during the crack-induced crime wave that consumed every aspect of public life from the street corner all the way up to the mayor’s office. The reason why Kevin Durant was able to avoid entanglement in all that probably had more to do with the way he was raised than it did with the fact that he was simply, “at the gym.” After all, it’s not like gym’s were immune to violence back in those awful days.

But, now that he’s out in the Bay Area, the incubator of the NFL protest movement. Playing with an activist teammate in Steph Curry and an activist coach in Steve Kerr, Durant is trying to fit in. And that’s fine, I don’t know Kevin Durant, and couldn’t care less about his political views are either way.

However, in looking down from the incredible heights of wealth and accomplishment that he has achieved for himself, and saying, essentially, that he sees oppression. He is robbing everyone growing up against the odds of a tremendously vital and potentially life-saving lesson that he is uniquely suited to give, and that’s discipline.

Not everyone, and maybe no one, is blessed with Kevin Durant’s physical and athletic abilities. However, the discipline, the drive, the work ethic, and determination that it took to get him from the streets of D.C. to an NBA championship; would serve as an invaluable resource for any kid struggling to find his way in D.C. or anywhere else. That’s what he should be preaching to young black kids: That any future you want is there for you, all you have to do is stay out of trouble and work at it. That should be Durant’s racial epiphany.

Instead, he’s just trying to fit in.


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