Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell became a thorn in the side of Utah lawmakers who were trying to pass legislation banning critical race theory in local schools. A newly-released video from May showed Republican state senate president Stuart Adams calling out Mitchell, insinuating that he didn’t understand the proposed reform.
“I hate to use names, but I will,” Adams said in the clip. “Donovan Mitchell is not happy with us. And you start to get ... very popular sports stars like that that are pushing back. We’ve got work to do to try to educate them. My text back was, ‘Let’s get after him and let’s go tell him what we’re doing,’ because I don’t really think he understands what happened.”
#utpol Sen. President Adams talking at an ALEC meeting about how they tried to copy a Critical Race Theory bill, but failed because the Donovan Mitchell wasn’t happy. Also says CRT isn’t something we’ve seen a lot of in Utah pic.twitter.com/l8NXEaq0hX— Qualified Charters (@quietstreetsnow) September 8, 2021
In June, the Utah State Board of Education passed a non-binding resolution on seven amendments detailing what can be taught on diversity, equity, and inclusion in public schools. The Deseret News has a full breakdown on what it means. Adams said during the session that critical race theory is not often taught in Utah public schools as it is, but state leaders will continue looking to pass legislation in 2022. Read Vox on the challenges facing educators as new laws try to limit discussions on race in the classroom.
Mitchell gave his thoughts on the proposed legislation in May.
“I think the biggest thing, the part that I really stand for, is education, and being able to educate our children on racial history,” Mitchell said. “I think that’s huge. I think that’s a big part of it, understanding the foundation of how we got to this point.”
Donovan Mitchell's response when asked about his thoughts on Utah lawmakers passing a resolution to ban teaching of critical race theory in schools. He wasn't aware that this resolution had passed before being asked the question. Overall he seemed disappointed. pic.twitter.com/Sb9mZ4OL1b— Sarah Todd (@NBASarah) May 20, 2021
New Jazz franchisee Ryan Smith supported Mitchell publicly on Thursday, writing “When it comes to important issues like race, we have to start from a position of listening, not “educating” … and listening to our players’ experiences is a great place to start.”
Mitchell and the Jazz have both done important work in the community over the last few years. This week, Mitchell announced he’s teaming with a non-profit to raise $1 million to help fund public school initiatives so teachers don’t have to pay out of pocket for classroom expenses.
The Jazz also started a minority scholarship program last season, which awarded one college scholarship to a local high school senior of color for every Jazz win. The Jazz led the NBA in wins last season.
Instead of Adams suggesting that he can ‘educate’ Mitchell, maybe he’s the one who should be doing some listening.