Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Have To Be Able To Speak Your Mind

NBA Hall of Famer, activist and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss his new book, “Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White,” and to weigh in on the Colin Kaepernick controversy that has dominated NFL headlines for the last month.

Abdul-Jabbar, 69, was asked what advice he would give Kaepernick, 28.

“Just to have some patience,” Abdul-Jabbar said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It’s hard to discuss these things that should have been settled or understood decades ago, and here we are dealing with them again. Everybody, they get tired. There’s some fatigue that settles in and people (say), ‘I’m tired of that. I don’t want to deal with that.’ But we have to. Because in each generation, there’s an issue or a set of circumstances that has to be dealt with. That’s the only way that we move forward – by dealing with things as we encounter them.”

Abdul-Jabbar, who has opined on social issues and spoken out against injustice in the past, sometimes gets frustrated by people who don’t “get it.”

“People who have not experienced racism really don’t get how it can be such a negative aspect in your life and something that you can’t overcome,” he said. “The whole history for black Americans being the last hired and the first fired – people didn’t believe that until they saw it happen in real time and in real circumstances where they saw someone discriminated against like that. So that is something that’s an ongoing thing that rears its head repeatedly. It’s a very disturbing thing when you’re trying to raise a family or support a family and every time you try to make some progress, an issue that should not be an issue takes you out of the game. It’s very frustrating. But until you’ve had that experience, you don’t believe that it exists – because it’s not supposed to exist here in America.”

Some people dislike that Kaepernick, a successful athlete with millions of dollars, is sharing his thoughts on social issues. Many others, such as Abdul-Jabbar, find that position absolutely asinine.

“I think some people think as a successful athlete, you don’t have any right to be critical, and that’s totally off-the-wall, as far as I’m concerned,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “You have to be able to speak your mind, no matter what position that you have in our society, especially when there’s so much discussion about so many negative aspects. Everybody has an opinion and we need to hear people’s opinions and evaluate them and see if they have any credence. If they’re not credible, we got to move on, but some of the things that are being discussed are very crucial to how are society moves forward.”

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