A native of the state of Virginia and a former Virginia Cavaliers basketball player, Justin Anderson knows the town of Charlottesville better than anyone. In case you’ve been disconnected from all other forms of media since last Friday, a number of ugly, violent clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters went down in the Virginia town, and after the senseless death of a 32-year-old woman, a nationwide dialogue has been sparked about what it all means for America.
Seeing an opportunity to lend his voice to the conversation in a meaningful way, Anderson appeared on Tuesday’s episode of Outside the Lines, and conducted a brief interview with Bob Ley on what was going through his mind. The third-year forward has been vocal on social media about what happened in his college town, and he decided to open up beyond the 140-character limit on Twitter.
Though Anderson expressed an understanding for the historical ties of the Confederate statues in the area, Anderson also shared his sadness over the hatred shown by the Neo Nazis and white supremacists who came through town.
For a group of people to come out and rally the way that they did, and harm innocent people, and put people in a position to feel like they’re not wanted, and show hate towards other people [of] any kind, any race, gender, ethnicity, it was just a sad sight to see.
Just from watching the videos, the image that I got was of fear. I was a little scared for not just African Americans in the area, but anyone who stood up for what I believe that’s right, and that’s that all people are seen equal, no matter their race, skin tone, or where they come from. It’s just something that obviously takes you aback, to just see innocent people harmed.
Understandably, a lot of Anderson’s focus remained on the town of Charlottesville itself, which he knows well. But in his closing thoughts of the segment, he told Ley that it’s not always easy to dismiss the hateful people lurking in the background, even if his focus is on trying to remain positive.
This was something that was planned, out of hate, this is something that a group of people sat down and realized they were going to come in and just, you know, tear up our city, tear up our town. And then also, like I said, innocent people were harmed during it.
I think the biggest thing for us as athletes that we’re trying to do is shed light of positivity, continue to build hope. Because at the end of the day, we have to show up, we have to perform, we have to do our job, but it’s kind of tough being that athlete and just always having to watch over your shoulder, for people who endorse hate. That’s not always something [that’s easy to deal with].
It is not just sad, but pitiful that we need to continue to have this conversation, and that Anderson needs to think about things like this in 2017. Part of the problem is humoring the notion that this is a two-sided issue. Far too often, anything controversial these days gets labeled “political” out of convenience to whoever wants to either ignore the problem, continue perpetuating it, or simply keep themselves risk-free by not speaking up.
But this is not a tax debate, nor is it a question of funding programs you like or dislike. It is about treating other human beings like human beings, a concept that most of us were taught by the time we could form our earliest memories. I’m glad Anderson is using his platform and his experience to speak out about this, and I hope the 76ers community will take his words to heart.
You can listen to the full podcast from Tuesday’s episode of OTL here.