Golden State Warriors forward David West said he protested the national anthem long before Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick made headlines in August when he remained seated during the “Star Spangled Banner.”
However, West revealed he quietly and less obviously took a stand against the tune for years. He did so by standing last in line and two feet behind his teammates.
The basketball star told The Undefeated he has protested for so long that he lost count of how many years have passed since he began. West said the issues he stands for go “a lot deeper” than just police brutality.
“What about education? What about infant mortality? How about how we die younger and our babies die sooner?” West said after the Warriors lost 97-93 to the Toronto Raptors on Oct. 1. “We die. [Black men] have the shortest life expectancy. C’mon, man. The health care system? There are so many [issues].”
Because of the importance of Black education and mortality rates, West deems issues of race relations less important.
“I can’t start talking about civic issues,” he continued. “I can’t start talking about civility and being a citizen if m———— don’t even think I’m a human being. How can you talk about progress and how humans interrelate with one another when you don’t even recognize our humanity? We got to somehow get that straight first so we’re on the same playing field.”
While many Warriors players told the sports and culture website they supported Kaepernick’s ongoing protest for African-Americans, West expressed doubt about how far the footballer’s movement will reach.
“What he is doing is great, but I think it’s going to pass, too,” West shared. “I’m not as optimistic about everything as everyone always seems to be.”
“It’s not just about the corrupt police inside what is supposed to be a serve and protect system,” he added. “That’s only a small piece of it.”
As a self-described Black history enthusiast and avid reader, West’s vocal advocacy for an array of Black concerns was compounded when he helped pay for the funeral of Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan. Dr. Ben had no qualms about upsetting white scholars with his statements about the Black African roots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Though West did not know Dr. Ben personally, he was influenced by the late scholar’s lecture tapes. That led the NBA star to offer to pay for the entire funeral, according to The Source.
Frosted Illustrated reported donations ultimately came from individuals and organizations including West, Rev. Al Sharpton and Black Classic Press, among others.