AN OPEN LETTER FROM MONTY WILLIAMS
I’m angry. I’m afraid. And I’m in pain.
When I read those words, I feel like I’m channeling one of my kids. These are the words of a teenager lost and looking for direction in a messed-up world, not the sentiment of an NBA head coach and former player.
We’re supposed to have all of the answers.
We’re supposed to be seen as grace under pressure.
We’re supposed to lead by example.
Still, I am angry, afraid and in pain. I don’t have all the answers, but I know the solutions start with love, listening, compassion, service and defending those who can’t defend themselves.
And I have definitely lost my cool over the years in the face of abject racism – dating back to my earliest memories growing up in Colonial Virginia – and likely more in the days to come.
I woke up this morning to our country on fire, AGAIN, and decided the least I can do as so many of us are gripped by anger, fear and pain is to lead by example. Allow my voice – filled with as much conviction as uncertainty – to be heard so that others, whether they have a platform or not, will lift their voices as well.
I pray for those we have lost but more personally for those who have lost – the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and so many before you. I know how it feels to get that call that someone you love isn’t coming home. The pit in your stomach. The unequivocal feeling of helplessness. Dropping to your knees and imploring God “why?” I feel your pain and can truly sympathize and empathize. I wish no one would ever have to receive that call again.
To my brothers and sisters from around the sports world, and in full transparency, help me. I’m looking for direction. I may not be the most profound or prolific – I know there are others with their own platforms out there telling yourself the same things – but we have an opportunity and I daresay, an obligation. How can we help each other find that direction?
I best sum it up in 1 John 3:17…
“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
We have earned positions of wealth and standing in society. We certainly cannot stand idly by.
I’m distraught as I look at my boys – two are African American and one is Caucasian – because too many people see them differently. None of them should have to think about how law enforcement will treat them if pulled over for rolling through a stop sign. None of them should be followed through a department store by security. None of them should feel the sweat rolling down their back when a cop follows them for blocks. Alas, their worlds are different, and something is wrong with that.
Don’t misread me. I have as much respect for most law enforcement as I do disdain for some of the would-be protesters.
To those who have sworn to protect and serve ALL people regardless of color, religion or sexual orientation, I say thank you. We have an institutional problem with pervasive racism. It must end now.
To those who are using the façade of a protest or march by choosing to destroy and tear down, I challenge you to be better. As I tell my players, I’m not calling you out, I’m calling you up. Destruction of property and life is NOT the answer.
It IS time to raze the institutional foundations of racism and segregation within politics, law enforcement and society at large. It must happen NOW.
Borrowing from C.S. Lewis, “you can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
We must be the change now.