Since protests, marches and discussions about racial justice in this country reached a fever pitch this summer, Florida basketball guard Scottie Lewis has been one of the most vocal Gators athletes.
When UF athletes across all sports protested in downtown Gainesville last weekend, Lewis addressed the crowd with an emotional and powerful speech.
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) August 29, 2020
Speaking to the media Tuesday, Lewis elaborated on his positions and the goals of his activism. He said he believes he has a unique opportunity to use his platform to create positive change.
“Just as a voice of not only athletes but as people, I figured if I’m going to have a voice or have a platform, what better way to do it than to give myself up and sacrifice a lot of things in order to make sure that myself and the people like me and the people that look like me, are setting a strong foundation for the ones coming after us,” Lewis said.
Lewis said this movement isn’t just about social justice for Black people, though that is certainly a priority in the wake of high-profile police shootings around the country. Instead, he says the movement represents an intersection of all oppressed groups.
“No matter where you come from, no matter who you are, no matter what you believe in, we’re more alike than what people may suggest that we are,” Lewis said. “You go to the protests and look out to the crowd, you see a very diverse group of people, all fighting for one thing, and I guess in retrospect, it’s bigger than African-Americans, it’s among the LGBTQ communities and women, black people, white people, people of color all over the world who have felt less than human, simply because of what other people say about them.”
Much like the protestors at-large, the reception for athletes speaking their minds on these issues has been mixed. When NBA star Lebron James spoke out about, among other things, racial issues in the United States as well as criticism of Pres. Donald Trump, Fox News host Laura Ingraham said, “Keep the political comments to yourselves. … Shut up and dribble.”
Lewis said that the phrase “shut up and dribble,” which has since been co-opted by sports fans looking to silence athletes on social issues, was perhaps the “most ignorant thing” he had ever heard.
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