Social injustice movements continue to dominate conversation, and two Ferris men’s basketball players have opened up about their opinions on the NBA’s approach.
As the NBA moves through the playoffs, they have been engaging in the social justice movement led by their players. Two Ferris basketball players approve of the organization letting their players speak out on the social injustice they believe is taking place in the world today.
Ferris sophomore point guard Jeremiah Washington said that he likes the moves the NBA has made. Deng Reng who plays the wing said that when some NBA players voted on the idea to put social injustice terms on the back of their jerseys it was a way for them to use their voices without saying much.
“It is a way for players to show the world how they feel about certain things going on,” Washington said. “I thought it was a good idea because the NBA worldwide has a big fan base and for their favorite players to have these messages on their back was a smart way to show the world that there needs to be change.”
The NBA allowed their players to change the names on the back of their jerseys and they approved 29 social justice statements for players to wear. Out of the 350 NBA players listed on rosters, 300 players wore social injustice messages on the back of their jerseys. Reng believes it was a brilliant idea and the message it gave was clear.
If given the opportunity to use social injustice terms on Ferris jerseys, Reng would be all for it. He believes it would allow players to express their thoughts on the current worldwide issue by not saying much, and instead, letting the jerseys speak for themselves.
“As an athlete, I think it would still be good to continue letting people know that we’re not going to stop using our voices,” Reng said. “This movement is not done, and we need to bring world peace to make this country a better place.”
Both Reng and Washington liked how players were able to choose from 29 different messages and show the world their point of view on the matter. Washington said that the name changes were seen worldwide and that it made a lot of people think about the movement.
“Nobody would ever know what it feels like to be a black man walking down the street with your hoodie on and getting pulled over because to some people the stereotype is all black people are ‘bad’ or ‘gang members’ which is not true,” Washington said. “Automatically they assume you’re a bad guy and that you’re a threat to society and that needs to change. There’s a variety of black young women and males who are excelling in different organizations and athletics.
“If we all come together as one, I think the world would be a much better place.”
Both Washington and Reng feel at home at Ferris and can freely express themselves on and off the court while they attend school. The pair of sophomores feel that no matter the situation, they can talk to the coaches and staff members of the athletics department.
However, regardless of how comfortable they feel about being vocal, they also know that at the end of the day there are some people with different opinions and perspectives on this specific topic. Recently, Reng has experienced a lot of racial slurs/comments whether on social media or first-hand and in-person.
“No matter what you say there will always be some people who will turn their back on you,” Reng said.
Amidst everything, the two young men have taken interest in NBA players who they have admired during the movements. Washington looks to the Portland Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard, who has “how many more” on his jersey. Reng said that Denver Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray has influenced him in one way in particular. After Murray scored 50 points in an elimination game, he thanked his shoes which had an image of George Floyd on one shoe and Breonna Taylor on the other.
Reng thought it was moving when Murray talked about how those shoes were a symbol to keep fighting all around the world and that it gave him life.
“It was definitely something that meant a lot to me, because one day I dream of being in his shoes and allowing my game speak to topics like these,” Reng said.