Kyle Kuzma is done being silent.
Despite his millions of dollars made as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kuzma has still experienced his fair share of racism after growing up as a biracial child in Flint, Michigan. They are experiences, where at the time he couldn't speak on them, that have shaped him into the basketball player he is today and the man he hopes to become.
"I’m sure a lot of biracial kids have that kind of similar story of not being black enough for the black kids and not being white enough for the white kids," Kuzma wrote. "As a kid, you don’t know the history behind all that. You can only really see the situation like the black community is telling you, 'You’re only half of us.' While to the white community, you’re just black, or worse — you’re a n*****. (They actually said stuff like that in front of me when I was in high school.)"
In a letter penned to the The Players Tribune, Kuzma "Ain't No Sticking to Sports." He details in the letter about the way he was raised and how as a country we can make a difference. He talks about the racial injustice black people face daily, and how we can move forward from these trying times — particularly those that have fallen upon us after the senseless killing of unarmed George Floyd by four police officers.
One of the hardest hitting parts of Kuzma's essay is how the 24-year-old, former Utah star, detailed how racism is a systemic problem in this country and how white privilege is so much bigger than the individual — it's worldwide.
"The best analogy I’ve heard that explains white privilege is that it’s like an invisible backpack that every white person wears," Kuzma wrote. "If you’re white and you’re ever in a situation where you might need help, you can take that backpack off, open it up, and pull out all sorts of shit. Get Out of Jail Free card. Job opportunities. Health benefits. Housing loans. Don’t get me wrong. Black people can get those things, too, but it’s a lot harder."
Despite his star status, which has seen him become a core member of LA's quest for an NBA title and one of the bright young stars of the league, Kuzma stills gets scared whenever he sees a cop car.
"If I’m driving and I see a cop, I’m checking my rearview mirror for like the next five minutes," he wrote. "That is the epitome of what this has done to us as black people, living in a racist society. That’s what we have to fear: the people who are supposed to protect us."
Through his experiences in Flint, "a really violent place where there's a lot of temptation to get into the streets" according to Kuzma, he experienced racism and neglect from both sides of the spectrum.
And now he's doing something about it — by promoting others to be the change they wish to see and get out and vote. He believes this is the best way to make a true difference in society, and he's currently in the process of developing something to make information more accessible.
"I’m launching a voting campaign that’s going to help get people’s eyes on where primaries and elections are being held in every state this year," he said. "I’m dropping something very soon."
He had the power to chance his world with a basketball, but hhasn't let that be the only part that he changes. He's now using his own words to promote racial injustice and change throughout the country and it's about time we, as a nation, listen and act.
"Shit has to be different this time," he wrote. "For that to happen, we have to do two things at once — KEEP UP the noise. Keep protesting, marching. Keep demanding CHANGE in the STREETS."