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Donovan Mitchell was crucial in derailing plans to ban critical race theory in Utah

Donovan Mitchell pushed back against Utah lawmakers banning critical race theory.

2021 NBA Playoffs - LA Clippers v Utah Jazz Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

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.”

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.”

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.