Karl-Anthony Towns Pens Letter About Charlottesville Racism: “This Is Nothing New In Our Country”

Lead Photo: Karl-Anthony Towns posts up on Al Horford at Philips Arena on November 9, 2015. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Karl-Anthony Towns posts up on Al Horford at Philips Arena on November 9, 2015. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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As conversation continues to rage in the United States regarding white supremacy, turbulent protests, and racially-motivated violence, athletes from every sport have voiced their thoughts on the issues currently ailing the nation. From LeBron James, to Adrían González, and especially with the situation surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s bid to play in the NFL once again, the tides are turning against the “stick to sports” mentality. As the effects of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville–and the subsequent violence that claimed the life of Heather Heyer–continue to be felt, another athlete is sharing his opinion on America’s tense racial environment: Karl-Anthony Towns.

The 21-year-old Dominican-American center, who currently plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, penned a piece at The Players’ Tribune over the weekend that voices his displeasure with the current state of affairs, particularly in the aftermath of Charlottesville. As Donald Trump was adding fuel to the fire, Towns was evaluating what it meant to him to be a minority at a time when America’s so-called alt-right is visibly and publicly fighting for a “whites first” society.

Towns, the son of a Dominican woman and and a black American man, saw his fair share of racism growing up, and so, after years of facing it head-on, these current events appear to weigh heavily on his brain. “If you’re a minority in America, just watching the news can be exhausting,” said Towns. “Normally, I’m an optimistic guy. What you see is what you get. But I guess these emotions can creep up on you.”

And while there’s a newfound focus on white supremacy following Charlottesville, Towns knows this isn’t a new thing, that America was built on the back of racism: “America has been struggling with racism since Day One. Our country is built on this. It’s our history.”

The All-Star baller also understands that, while he’s not a politician, he can still use his voice to inspire change. “Basketball is what I do for a living, not who I am as a man. So as athletes we have a huge opportunity to support what we think is right and to speak up about what we think is wrong.”

The NBA has been a force for activism in recent years, from the Miami Heat’s iconic hoodie photo in honor of Trayvon Martin, to LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony coming together to relay a powerful message at last year’s ESPY awards. While it’s been the older guard of the league that have stepped up their socially-conscious messaging in social media and in their personal lives, Towns leads a new generation that will be tasked with following their lead.

By virtue of his Players Tribune piece, which you can read here, it appears Towns is ready to step up.