NBA's DeMar DeRozan Reveals Impact of 'Endless' Police Brutality During Childhood in Compton



These types of experiences lead you to suppress a lot of pain. You pack away your feelings and make yourself forget about them, then try to convince yourself that it's "just life." So, long after the police have gone, you're left to cope with the damage done to your mental health.

When I first heard about George Floyd's murder, all I could think was, "Here we go again." I've felt that each time another story of a Black person killed by law enforcement made it into the headlines. I absolutely hate that you can wake up on any given morning to see another unarmed person killed or innocent person in handcuffs.

But I also find myself thinking about all those people who we don't see, those who didn't get the crime committed against them by police caught on camera. When I take that into account, it just heightens my frustration.

That's why it was vital for me to return to Compton after George Floyd's death to participate in the Black Lives Matters protests with my people. It was the most comfortable, most peaceful, most joyful time I could have experienced during this period in our country.

That city is my family, and I will always rep Compton every step of the way and give the next generation inspiration to do something greater than me.

That's what we all have to do now when it comes to social justice — hold on to this inspiration, this momentum — and keep it going. The change we want to see isn't going to happen overnight, in a month or a year. We have to be committed to working far past that point to expose everything that has been used to keep us down if we really want to see a change.

My message is this: Don't let this moment pass. Don't let this opportunity pass. Apply pressure to the whole system to make a lasting change to systematic racism, oppression and everything that we've gone through for decades and decades, over and over.

I would hate to live through — or let my kids live through — another experience like this to fix the future.

  • As told to Jason Duaine Hahn

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

• ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.

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