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NBA Players Step Up To Help Arena Workers After Coronavirus Ends Basketball Season

Blake Griffin, Giannis Antetokounmpo and more are making six-figure donations to cover employee salaries.

With the NBA season halted over the ongoing spread of COVID-19, several athletes are stepping up to help ease financial burdens. Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Zion Williamson are among the list of players who will be covering salaries for employees at various arenas around the country while the NBA season is postponed.

Griffin, who plays for the Detroit Pistons, is donating $100,000 to employees at the Little Ceasars Arena who are affected by the shut down. Love, of the Cleveland Cavaliers, will be donating $100,000 to aid staff at the Quicken Loans Arena.

Williamson, of the New Orleans Pelicans, will be covering salaries for Smoothie King Center employees for the next month. “This is a small way for me to express my support and appreciation for these wonderful people who have been so great to me and my teammates and hopefully we can all join together to relieve some of the stress and hardship caused by this national crisis,” Williamson wrote on Instagram. “This is an incredibly resilient city full of some of the most resilient people, but sometime providing a little extra assistance can make things a little easier for the community.”

 

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The people of New Orleans have been incredibly welcoming and supportive since I was Drafted by the Pels last June, and some of the most special people I have met are those who work at smoothie King Center. These are the folks who make our games possible, creating the perfect environment for our fans and everyone involved in the organization. Unfortunately, many of them are still recovering from long term challenges created by Katrina, and now face the economic impact of the postponement of games because of the virus. My mother has always set an example for me about being respectful for others and being grateful for what we have, and so today I am pledging to cover the salaries for all of those Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days. This is a small way for me to express my support and appreciation for these wonderful people who have been so great to me and my teammates and hopefully we can all join together to relieve some of the stress and hardship caused by this national health crisis. This is an incredibly resilient city full of some of the most resilient people, but sometimes providing a little extra assistance can make things a little easier for the community.

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Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks forward and 2019 MVP) and his family have pledged $100,000  to help staff at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum. “It’s bigger than basketball! And during this tough time I want to help the people that make my life, my family lives and my teammates lives easier,” he tweeted on Friday (March 13).

Utah Jazz player, Rudy Gobert, whose contraction of the coronavirus triggered the early end of basketball season, will be making a $500,000 donation in support of the Vivint Smart Home Arena and “COVID-related social service relief” in Utah, Oklahoma City, and health care efforts in his native country of France.

President Barack Obama sent a shout out to the players tweeting in part that the act of generosity stands as, “A reminder that we’re a community, and that each of us has an obligation to look out for each other.”

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NFL Will Reportedly Play Black National Anthem When Season Kicks Off

The NFL is reportedly adding “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to its playlist. The Black national anthem will be played (and possibly performed) during week 1 of the upcoming season, ESPN reported on Thursday (July 2).

The song will reportedly play ahead of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” during pregame festivities.

The move, which comes four years after Colin Kaepernick began his on-the-field protest against police brutality, reflects the latest shift in the league’s ever-changing stance on the Black Lives Matter movement. After previously banning players from protesting during the National Anthem, and quietly settling collusion lawsuits brought on by Kaepernick and Eric Reid, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted last month that the league was wrong for essentially silencing players and ignoring issues of police brutality, racial injustice, and systematic oppression.

“We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black people, Goodell said in a video statement. “We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans are expected to kick off the 2020-2021 NFL season on Sept. 10.

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Bubba Wallace Noose Incident Was Not A Hate Crime, FBI Says

An FBI investigation into a noose found in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s garage door at the Talladega Superspeedway had been their since last October. After a “thorough review of the facts and evidence,” the bureau determined that Wallace, the only Black full-time NASCAR driver, was not the victim of a hate crime.

“Fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway.  After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed,” U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent Johnnie Sharp Jr. said in a joint statement on Tuesday (June 23).

Although the noose was found in Garage 4, “nobody could have known” that Wallace would be assigned that garage number.

NASCAR released a similar statement confirming that “photographic evidence” concluded that the garage pull “roped fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since last fall.”

“We appreciate the FBI's quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba,” NASCAR's statement continued. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.” The incident came two weeks after NASCAR banned the Confederate Flag.

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— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 23, 2020

After the noose was found Wallace stated in part that the “despicable act of racism and hatred leave me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society.” Later that day, Wallace was joined by all 39 NASCAR drivers and their crews as they pushed his car down the pit road in a show of solidarity.

The 26-year-old Alabama native has said that the murder of Ahmaud Arbery inspired him to become more vocal  about the Black Lives Matter Movement.

 

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A post shared by bubbawallace (@bubbawallace) on Jun 7, 2020 at 1:58pm PDT

Despite a small number of Black drivers to join NASCAR the sport remains notoriously segregated but recent event have brought on more Black fans. “Supporting and thanking the pre-existing fans, and encouraging the new ones,” Wallace captioned an Instagram photo of him greeting fans. “For all of those new to the sport, we welcome you with open arms.”

 

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Supporting and thanking the pre-existing fans, and encouraging the new ones. For all of those new to the sport, we welcome you with open arms.

A post shared by bubbawallace (@bubbawallace) on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:42am PDT

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Colin Kaepernick on stage at the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Award Ceremony at Harvard University on October 11, 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Colin Kaepernick Partners With Black Verticals, ‘Level’ and ‘Momentum,’ Joins Medium Board Of Directors

Months after Colin Kaepernick revealed his plans to release a memoir, he and his publishing company—Kaepernick Publishing—are joining forces with Medium.

Aside from having a seat on Medium's board of directors, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback will be conducting a series of Q&A interviews on the topics of race, prison reform, and more. Content from Kaepernick's tentatively titled series "Conversations with Colin" will be published on Medium's Level, where he'll also consult on a series of feature articles on the Black men-focused vertical led by former VIBE editor-in-chief, Jermaine Hall.

“Colin is one of our social justice leaders,” Hall said to The Washington Post. “I think he’s leading the charge and it’s based on what’s going on in the country right now. And because he’s no longer in the NFL and we’ve lost his talent on the field — hopefully he gets back there — but we’ve gained an incredibly powerful voice for the black community who can actually affect social change.”

Kaepernick will also be collaborating with Level's Black news focused vertical, Momentum, and "sharing his thoughts on anti-racism in our society" and "co-publish thought-provoking feature stories from diverse writers of color," according to the statement released by Medium's CEO Ev Williams.

Kaepernick Publishing and its founder released the following statement on Twitter:

We’re excited to announce our founder, @kaepernick7, will be the newest Board Member @medium. In addition to this, #KaepernickPublishing partners with Medium to further our mission uplifting voices of our communities. pic.twitter.com/FQYYNdTQcP

— Kaepernick Publishing (@KaepernickPub) June 18, 2020

"Throughout history, our stories have been manipulated, destroyed, and erased," says Kaepernick in the video reel on his publishing company's official website. "Our culture has been colonized, our genius exploited, and our creativity co-opted.

"We've had to fight for our humanity, representation, and control. Control of our narratives is crucial to decolonize knowledge, stories, cultures, and minds. We must take control of our narratives. The kind of control that can liberate us from seeing ourselves through the gaze of others. The kind of control that can change the way we see the world and how the world sees us."

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