Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Citizenship

LeBron James: ‘Racism Will Always Be Part of the World’

Turning into your driveway and seeing a racial slur painted on your home isn’t supposed to happen in the United States, a nation that preaches equality and open-mindedness. But it does, and it did.  

Basketball superstar LeBron James’ Los Angeles home was vandalized Wednesday morning, the N-word spray painted across the front gate, TMZ first reported, confirmed by the LAPD.

James is currently getting ready to play in his seventh consecutive NBA finals, but rather than answering questions about his historic success in the sport of basketball, James responded to the hate crime while speaking to the media before practice Wednesday.

Take Action: Tell Congress to Fight to End Extreme Poverty at Home and Abroad

He delivered a foreboding message but one that’s not unfounded: that racism and hate will always exist in the world.

“My family is safe and that’s most important. But it just goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America,” James said. “Hate in America, especially for African Americans is living every day. And even though it’s concealed most of the time, people hide their faces and will say things about you and when they see you they’ll smile in your face, it’s alive every single day.”

James then referenced Emmett Till, who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 at the age of 14, his body mutilated and dumped in the Tallahatchie River. After the body was retrieved, Till’s mother, Mamie, decided to have an open-casket funeral, forcing people to face the brutality of racism in America.

“I think back to Emmett Till’s mom, actually. It’s one of the first things I thought of,” James said. “The reason that she had an open casket is cause she wanted to show the world what her son went through as far as a hate crime and being black in America.”

Till’s murderers were acquitted, which made the event more iconic in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.  

Read More: LeBron James Just Delivered Nikes He Helped Design for Kids With Disabilities

While spray paint is infinitely less savage, it’s another event that punches holes in America’s identity as a haven of inclusivity.

James pointed out how racism transcends class and celebrity.

“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough and we got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African Americans until we feel equal in America,” James said.

Read More: Nike Released a Stirring Ad on Equality That You Need to See

He ended his statement the same way he opened it.

“My family is safe and that’s what’s important,” he said.

James is no stranger to advocating for racial justice.

After Trayvon Martin was killed, James posed with his teammates in hooded sweatshirts, an homage to the 17-year-old who was wearing a hoodie when he was shot to death on February 26, 2012.

James also wrote “RIP Trayvon Martin” on his shoes.

After the death of Eric Garner at the hands of a police officer on July 17, 2014, James was one of many NBA players who wore T-shirts that read, “I can’t breathe” during warmups, in reference to Garner’s desperate plea, documented on a cell phone video.

At the ESPY Awards last July, James joined fellow basketball players Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade calling for an end to police brutality and for athletes to step up and invest in improving their communities.

Read More: Strangers Come Together to Clean Up Hateful Graffiti on Subway

“We all feel helpless and frustrated by the violence – we do – but that’s not acceptable,” James said on the ESPY stage. “It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, ‘what are we doing to create change?’”

Police were called to James’ home in response to the graffiti at around 7am and are currently seeking security footage from neighboring homes. But responding to hate and using it for something positive is far more important than catching the culprits.

Removing the graffiti took a new coat of paint. Achieving true equality in America will take much more.