PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris has been active both on social media and personally walking in peaceful protests in the city in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Harris further used his voice and platform on Wednesday, penning a column for The Players’ Tribune, titled “Y’all Hear Us, But You Ain’t Listening,” in which he discusses people losing sight of the message the protests have been about.
In the piece, Harris starts by laying out the facts of the situation.
“A white police officer killed an unarmed black man, and he was able to do it in broad daylight, with three other cops watching, because of the color of his skin,” Harris wrote.
He then goes on to explain that people asking to “Let’s stop making this about race,” are missing the point. Harris points out that people have been out in the streets for years protesting police brutality but says the country as a whole doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge the issue and would rather see the protests just end.
“It’s always been about race.
And if we dig really deep, this also about HUMANITY.
If you can’t acknowledge that, then I can’t really have a dialogue with you.
We been in the streets protesting for years about police brutality. But it’s like, Y’all hear us, but you ain’t listening. That’s what’s the most upsetting thing for me. And I know it is for others too, around the world.
It seems like nothing is really working to get our voices heard. We have normalized this to the point where it’s common to see videos of people on social media being bashed by officers.
For people who want to make this about anything but race, it’s like, Dang, do y’all really not understand what’s going on here?
Keep it real. Admit something’s wrong in this country, admit that this is about race, and let’s build a way forward.”
Harris points out the dichotomy of how protests are seen when they are conducted by white citizens and when they are conducted by black citizens, referring to the example of the armed, mostly white, protesters who went to the steps of Michigan’s state capitol to protest the state’s stay-at-home order last month.
“Last month, armed men took over the steps of Michigan’s capitol building. To protest the QUARANTINE.
And what did the President call them?
But we go out and protest that another black life has been taken senselessly, and we’re “THUGS.”
He then says that there has to be accountability for police officers who commit conduct like that seen most recently in the death of George Floyd. Harris writes that all he could think about while walking in the protests in Center City over the weekend was 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in Florida in 2013. Harris says that he regrets not being more involved then, but he has since further educated himself on these issues and is asking for others to do the same.
“I’ve educated myself on the world in the years since. I’m able to take myself out of the celebrity bubble and the profile that I’m at, and look at what black people are going through around the country.
That’s why I’m saying my piece now. And I already know that some people won’t like it. There is still a stigma around talking openly about race. A hundred percent. But at this point, I don’t care.
I’m pushing people in my circle!! We gotta hold friends accountable, too. I’m pushing myself, my family, friends, and people around me — people that follow me, people that look up to me — to get uncomfortable. You have to. Ain’t no both sides.
And SILENCE is UNACCEPTABLE.”
Harris says that these protests and discussions are about “preaching this message of how you feel about what’s going on in the world.” And says, on Saturday in Philly, it was about a “togetherness” of people who were trying to preach that message. The full piece can be read on The Players’ Tribune.