Duncan Robinson Issues Profound Statement on Why White NBA Players Have to Fight Social Injustice

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The important issue of social justice is something that Miami Heat forward Duncan Robinson is committed to as 22 NBA teams get ready to resume the 2019-20 season.

Robinson is white, which makes him a minority amongst players within the NBA and more acutely aware of the issues that African-Americans continue to face on a daily basis.

That’s why he believes that he and other white NBA players need to be a major force in ending social injustice.

“I think it’s absolutely paramount,” Robinson told the Miami Heralds Anthony Chiang in a recent phone interview. “The NBA is a predominately black league. And me kind of being the anomaly in that sense, I’ve always tried to commit myself to being an ally and taking those necessary steps. But especially in a time like this, if you’re doing it quietly, it’s really not serving anybody at all. So that has been a challenge for me. I know what’s right and I know that I now have a responsibility to speak up and speak out against what is going on. Something that I definitely really realized amidst this all is there’s a lot of power in a beneficiary of a broken system condemning it for what it is. That has been something that I’ve been more willing and open about addressing. It certainly comes with its challenges, just because for some reason these tend to be controversial issues. I don’t really understand why that is. But that’s just the reality of it.

“For me, that has been a big part of finding my voice and speaking out against these injustices and showing my teammates and also players across the league that I’m not just standing with them silently, but I also stand with them publicly. I also have a responsibility outside of that. A big part of that is educating myself, doing my due diligence in terms of understanding the history of this country and the history of racial injustices across this country. And then also actually enacting my rights, whether it be voting, whether it be creating awareness, whether it be amplifying voices of those who are leaders who I align with. All of those fall in the same category. So that has also been something that I’ve really been trying to prioritize and take very seriously because we’re at a very critical point in our country, I feel. In years and generations down the line, there’s going to be a right and wrong side of history, and I certainly want to be on the right side. That’s for damn sure.”

The NBA has encouraged players to express themselves when play resumes by allowing messages on the backs of their uniforms.

In Robinson’s case, he’ll be wearing a jersey with the phrase, “Say Their Names,” which seeks to identify each of the African-Americans who have been injured or killed in confrontations with police.

“Ultimately I chose that one just because I feel it demands the conversation to be had and it pushes it to the forefront,” Robinson said of his jersey choice, “which obviously so much of this movement has really done and it has forced uncomfortable conversations. I just wanted to continue that trend and continue to make it a priority of something that’s addressed.”

When it comes to playing basketball, the 26-year-old Robinson is also hoping to continue making a big impact for the Heat after averaging 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game prior to the March 11 shutdown.

Robinson’s first opportunity to present the message on his uniform will take place on Aug. 1, when the Heat resume their season against the Denver Nuggets in Orlando, Fla.

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for HeatNation.com, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.