Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden invoked powerful words about racial injustice from NBA coach Doc Rivers while speaking Tuesday on the need to unite a deeply divided nation.
The former vice president spoke in Pennsylvania, where Rivers recently became coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. Biden touched on several issues that have sown hatred and division in the United States, delivering his own Gettysburg Address that implored Americans to appeal to their higher nature.
In talking about the problems of racial injustice and police brutality that led this year to renewed calls for systemic change along with a rise in white supremacist attacks, Biden stressed the need for America to face its ugly history while keeping communities safe ― citing significant voices who have called for justice in recent months.
“George Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, who I met with, was one such voice when she said, ‘Daddy changed the world,’” he said of the Black man killed by police in Minneapolis earlier this year, sparking a wave of protests nationwide. “Also, Jacob Blake’s mother was another when she said violence didn’t reflect her son and that this nation needed healing.
“And Doc Rivers, the basketball coach choking back tears when he said, ‘We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. … We’ve been hung. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.’”
Rivers, who is Black, decried the relationship between police and Black people in the U.S. following his team’s playoff game victory in August, when he was still coaching the Los Angeles Clippers.
“It’s funny, we protest, and they send riot guards, they send people in riot outfits. [White supremacists] go up to Michigan with guns, and they’re spitting on cops. Nothing happens,” Rivers said. “The training has to change in the police force. The unions have to be taken down in the police force. My dad was a cop. … We’re trying to get them to protect us, just like they protect everybody else.”
Rivers’s comments came in response to a video that showed police shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin ― paralyzing the 29-year-old Black man from the waist down. The coach said that Americans “do not need to be Black to be outraged” by such an injustice and that all he’s asking is for police to “live up to the Constitution.”
“Think about that,” Biden said Tuesday. “Think about what it takes for a Black person to love America. That is a deep love for this country that for far too long we have never fully recognized. We cannot and will not walk away from our obligation to, at long last, face the reckoning on race and racial injustice in the country.”