Malcolm Brogdon spent four years of his life playing college basketball at the University of Virginia. So it was “jarring” for him to see white nationalists and neo-Nazis gather in Charlottesville, Va. — a place he calls home — to protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate icon Robert E. Lee.
“I think at the end of the day, you have to call it what it is. I think it’s white supremacy and I think it’s domestic terrorism,” Brogdon said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. “I think we live in a country where we go overseas and we fight other people’s wars. We fight terrorism overseas internationally, but we don’t want to fully acknowledge the terrorism that goes home domestically.
“I think it’s a shocking event, but it’s not surprising, the hate that’s still around.”
Brogdon has become the latest athlete to speak out on Charlottesville. Recently, LeBron James tweeted his disappointment with the gathering and subsequent attack, in which 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed in a crowd of anti-racism demonstrators when a Nazi sympathizer purposefully plowed his car through the protest.
It's sad what's going on in Charlottesville. Is this the direction our country is heading? Make America Great Again huh?! He said that ♂️— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 12, 2017
Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again! Statues has nothing to do with us now!— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 15, 2017
Colin Kaepernick, Marshawn Lynch, and Michael Bennett are among the NFL players who have also recently used their platforms to highlight conversations around social issues.
Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem before games last season to protest police killings of African Americans, though he opted out of his contract and has yet to find another job in football. Lynch sat down while the national anthem was performed during Oakland’s first preseason game, something he said he has been doing for years.
Bennett, who has been outspoken around social issues as the Seahawks’ defensive captain, recently called for white players to join in protesting during the national anthem. He says he will sit for the national anthem throughout the entire season.
For Brogdon, what’s been done has been great, but athletes need to speak louder if the country is going to listen.
“I see guys like Colin Kaepernick in the NFL. Guys like Marshawn Lynch, they’re sitting down, they’re making statements, they’re standing up for what they believe in and I think it’s terrific,” he said. “I think we need more athletes like that that have platforms, that have stages, that are willing to make sacrifices to see that our country improves as a whole.”
Brogdon wasn’t the only Virginia Cavalier to speak out. His former teammate and current Philadelphia 76ers forward, Justin Anderson, promoted equality in light of the Charlottesville incident, as did UVA head coach Tony Bennett, who delivered a strong message of belief in “diversity and unity to its fullest extent, and when those two things come together, something beautiful and triumphant comes out it it.”
For now, Brogdon doesn’t know if he’ll make a game-to-game protest a la Kaepernick’s knee.
What he does know, however, is he won’t let his athlete status pigeonhole him into speaking only about basketball. The thought of putting athletes in a bubble is absurd and implies they “don’t have the educational background to comment on things outside of sports,” he said.
Instead, he’s going to speak out and encourage other athletes to do the same.
“I think it’s our duty. I don’t think it’s something we have a choice to do,” said Brogdon. “I think it’s our duty if you have the platform. If you’re comfortable enough, you should speak out. It’s the morally right thing to do.”