Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Tells People To Make A Friend Who Doesn't Look Like Them

Melissa Rohlin

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a simple suggestion.

If you want to curb police brutality, if you want to end racism, if you want to change society, if you want transform the world, you could start with one small act. 

"Make a friend out of someone who doesn't look like you, and you'll get to understand their humanity," Abdul-Jabbar told Spectrum SportsNet. "It will make it a lot easier for you to understand what happens to people, it's as simple as that. And you'll get a better understanding of who your fellow citizens are."

Abdul-Jabbar has been very vocal amid widespread protests across the nation following the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, who died after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for over eight minutes despite his pleas that he couldn't breathe in Minneapolis on May 25.  

In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Abdul-Jabbar articulated that racism is omnipresent for black people in America. 

"I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn," Abdul-Jabbar wrote. "But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere."

The six-time NBA champion wrote that nothing seems to be moving the needle, which has led to a widespread feeling of anger, angst and fear. 

"What you should see when you see black protesters in the age of [President Donald] Trump and coronavirus is people pushed to the edge, not because they want bars and nail salons open, but because they want to live," he wrote. "To breathe."

Abdul-Jabbar also spoke to ESPN, saying that he genuinely hopes we can move forward as a society and enact real change, but he acknowledged that he fears whether that can truly happen. 

"I feel like I'm caught between hope and history," Abdul-Jabbar told ESPN. "The hope is that the United States will live up to its ideals and will overcome its history of very poor racial attitudes that ends up in violence against black Americans. I hope that we will deal with the better aspects of who we are as Americans. But history makes it very tough to have a positive outcome, it seems. We just can't seem to get past a certain point. And that is very troubling."