When NBA players agreed to restart the 2019-20 season one of the stipulations of a return was they could continue to fight for social change.
That fight is one of the things NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed in his letter to NBA fans prior to Thursday night's NBA opener.
"It’s an opportunity for NBA players and teams to continue a longstanding tradition of addressing important issues around social justice," Silver wrote.
The Toronto Raptors have been one of the teams at the forefront of the fight for social change. Raptors players have routinely voiced their displeasure with racial inequality all over the globe and educated one another on what it's like to be a Black man in North America.
For Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, who will return to the court Saturday with the words "Education Reform" on his back, the fight for social justice starts with changing the hearts and minds of today's youth.
“Myself, growing up in the inner city, we weren’t really taught African-American history. We weren’t taught about our ancestors, our history as African-Americans. We had a month in February when we kind of went through some stuff and that was it," Lowry said.
That 400-plus year history of anti-Black racism in North America has largely been erased from grade school textbooks. American and Canadian history has primarily been taught through the lens of the White men who wrote the founding documents, led the wars, and have held the highest positions for nearly the entirety of the countries existence.
Lowry, who has two young boys, said hasn't waited to teach his children American history.
"We’re not going to wait for anyone else," Lowry said. "We’re gonna do what we have to do and what we’ve always done to make sure our kids understand where we come from, what we stand for, (and the things) that Black people have to encounter.”
Then there's the other side of education reform that comes down to the quality of education for racial minorities. Lowry, who grew up in North Philadelphia, said the education in his neighbourhood growing up paled in comparison to some of the suburban schools that surrounded the city.
"It sucks because the type of neighbourhood I grew up in, they don’t get the same education that they get in the suburbs and the more polished neighbourhoods," said Lowry. "The tax money, they don’t get the tax money. They don’t get the opportunities that the other kids do, the kids in the neighbourhood that I grew up in. I think it starts there. I think it starts with educating the youth and understanding what it is.”
When the Raptors return to the court Saturday their goal is to bring awareness to these issues, Lowry said.
“What we’re doing as players is we’re voicing everything we need to voice," he said. "We’re always going to continue to talk about justice for Breonna Taylor. We’re talking about voting. We’re talking about voting suppression. We’re going to continue to push the issues on the back of our jerseys, in our interviews and in our process."