LeBron James reflected on America’s racial double standard a day after supporters of President Donald Trump violently raided the U.S. Capitol, calling the events a key example of how “two Americas” exist.
During a press conference Thursday night following his team’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs (118-109), the Los Angeles Lakers star said that the past week had been particularly “tough on anybody in the Black community.”
Mobs of pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol building, shattering windows with force and storming into the Senate chamber. Photos and videos showed the insurrectionists leisurely roaming the building, with some breaching legislative offices and others stealing property.
Law enforcement put up minimal resistance when rioters stormed the Capitol building, and just a few dozen people were arrested at the scene on Wednesday. The attack left at least five people dead.
James pointed out on Thursday that the outcome would have been profoundly different had the white rioters been Black.
“We live in two Americas and that was a prime example of that yesterday,” the NBA legend said. “If you don’t understand that or don’t see that after seeing what you saw yesterday, then you really need to take a step back — not even just one step ... maybe four or five ... or even 10 steps backwards.”
James said that on Wednesday, he had been thinking about his three children and his wife, Savannah, all of whom are Black, and wondered how differently the events would have unfolded had the insurrectionists looked like them.
“I think we all know,” he said.
During the press conference, James also mentioned Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was paralyzed from the waist down after a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot him seven times in the back in August. On Tuesday, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced that Rusten Sheskey, the white police officer who shot Blake, would not face criminal charges for the incident.
James said that that outcome had also contributed to how difficult the week had been for him and many other Black Americans.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama shared similar sentiments in a statement released on Wednesday. The “Becoming” author pointed out that Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer were met with “brute force,” and asked, about the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol, “What if these rioters had looked like the folks who go to Ebenezer Baptist Church every Sunday?”
Obama, who was referencing Atlanta’s historic Black church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, replied to her own question, saying, “I think we all know the answer.”