LeBron James, Bubba Wallace Discuss America’s Racial Divide

Ending the suppression of Black voters. Using sports to combat racism. Measuring the price you pay for taking a stand.

NBA superstar LeBron James and Nascar driver Bubba Wallace spoke to Bloomberg News this week about how they’re using their platforms to fight systemic racism. Here are a few highlights:

LeBron James

On how to measure the success of his activism: “I think success looks like -- educating the people on the ground in these cities that we’re tackling. That is success for us, where we’re actually getting these communities out to vote, but they’re even more educated on who they’re voting for, how they can vote, where they can vote. They have that power. There are some -- there’s a lot of people that believe that they can’t vote because they’ve had previous convictions with the law or they’ve been to jail.”

On the NBA’s support for players taking social stands: “I’m a part of a league with a great commissioner in Adam Silver,” he said. “He’s given us an opportunity to, when we feel something that’s very wrong with society, that’s very wrong with what’s going on in our community, that we could speak upon that and use the NBA shield to back us.”

On the NFL and Colin Kaepernick: “I have not heard a true, official apology to Colin Kaepernick on what he was going through and what he was trying to tell the NFL and tell the world about why he was kneeling when he was doing that as a San Francisco 49er.”

Bubba Wallace

On his motivation for speaking out now: “Just stand up for what’s right. It’s simple as that.”

On previously sticking to the politically-correct line that he didn’t see Confederate flags at Nascar events: “I was always quick to say, you know, I don’t even see the Confederate flags. I pay attention to the checkered flag. You know, that’s all I’m chasing, just kind of giving the politically-correct answer, the PR answer there. And, you know, going through everything this year, 2020, it’s been a hell of a year, one that we will for sure love to forget. And going through everything now and seeing how the world is changing and seeing how much people want change and inclusion and to feel wanted, it felt right to stand up and encourage Nascar to take swift action to remove the Confederate flag. So I was proud of how quick that happened.”

On being inundated with calls for future sponsorship deals: “Yeah, we’ve got a lot of partnership outreach and new opportunities, and that’s been great,” said Wallace. “The phones have been ringing off the hook for my team behind closed doors.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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