It’s the question of how to turn the voices of the oppressed and a growing movement into actionable change that improves lives.
For Bulls guard Zach LaVine, a key starting point is to vote. It’s an action that he admits he has ignored previously, which has left him with newfound regret in a changing time in our society.
It’s also something that he has vowed to change.
"I can stick myself out there, I haven't voted before," LaVine said on a Zoom call with local media Friday afternoon. "And you know, that's not doing my part in the community. So, go out there and not just vote for the presidency but things in your own community as well, because, you know, everything that you vote for can make a change and put those people who are in power to hear your voice and help make that change."
LaVine spent about half of his 22-minute season-ending interview discussing race relations in America. He talked one day after he took a microphone and encouraged others to vote at a rally in Seattle, his hometown and where he has spent most of his time since the coronavirus halted the NBA season on March 11.
LaVine, who's biracial with a black father and white mother, has taken a newfound interest in politics and government, having pointed out, "What’s going on isn’t right."
"It just wasn’t something that I was hip to," LaVine said when asked why he didn’t vote previously. "Obviously, I know that you have the right to vote, but everybody doesn’t have to. With what’s going on, I think it matters a lot more now, at least to me, because I think every single vote counts. Before, I wasn’t educated at all on it. I’m trying to educate myself now more on the politics and what goes on and how things are voted in. So just taking action in my own community and trying to do my part is the reason why I’m moving forward with that."
The 25-year-old LaVine was asked what advice he had for the younger generation as well.
"Just educate yourself," he said. "Be active. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and be different either. Go out there and try to make a change even if you have an opinion and you’re the only one in the room talking. Don’t be afraid of that, because I think now with what’s going on, everybody has a certain opinion and now that everybody is talking, it’s OK to have that opinion. If something settles down and you’re the only one with an opinion, I think it’s a little bit harder for someone to speak up. So don’t feel scared about that. And go out there and do what’s right for you.
"Everybody has a voice right now, and we’re bringing attention ... to it to where we have to be heard."
Bulls forward Thaddeus Young conducted a media call as well Friday and echoed many of LaVine’s thoughts. He also shared a message for how white people can best support black Americans when they might be unsure of the best way to do so.
"I would just strongly encourage them to make sure that if they're on our side – which they should be, because what's right is right, what's wrong is wrong – to get out and show that we're a unified group," Young said. "We're together to show that they support what we're doing, they support our movement.
"Just to be behind us and do the right thing. Also on down the line, teach the younger generation on their side that this wasn't right. You should treat everybody equal, you should look at everybody the same way. You never talk or speak down to anybody, nor do harm to anybody. Those are the things ... and also fight for what's right."