54 years later, Dwane Casey is wondering if anything has changed.
Even though he was born just across the border in Indiana, the current coach of the Detroit Pistons spent the majority of his childhood growing up in rural Kentucky. While living there, he says he experienced endless racism and constant fear. At the young of age eight years old, Casey felt invisible as a black child attending a predominantly white school. Now he wonders if his own son, who is currently eight years old, will have to undergo the same injustices that he did over half a century ago.
On Saturday, Casey spoke out on the protests that have been scattered throughout the United States in a statement released by the Pistons:
"Now is the time for real change."
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) May 30, 2020
“Fifty-four years ago I was an eight-year-old boy living in rural Kentucky when the schools were desegregated. I walked into a white school where I was not wanted nor welcomed. At that time there were no cell phones to record my treatment, no cable news stations with 24/7 coverage, no social media to record the reality of the situation or offer support nor condemnation. But I can remember exactly how I felt as an eight-year-old child. I felt helpless. I felt as if I was neither seen, nor heard, nor understood. As I have watched the events unfold in the days following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a city where I coached and once called home, I see how many people continue to feel those same feelings – helpless, frustrated, invisible, angry.
I understand the outrage because it seems the list continues to grow: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd. The injustices continue to mount and nothing seems to be changing.
Fifty-four years later, my son is now eight years old and I look at the world he is growing up in and wonder, how much has really changed? How often is he judged on sight? Is he growing up in a world where he is seen, and heard, and understood? Does he feel helpless? Will he be treated like George Floyd or Ahmaud Abrey? What have we really done in the last 54 years to make his eight-year-old world better than mine was? We all have to be and do better.
We have to change the way we see and hear each other. We have to work together to find solutions to make the justice system just. Black, white and brown people have to work together to find new answers. The only way we can stop the systemic problems that people of color have faced all our lives is through honesty and transparency. We have to understand why people are at their limit at this moment. It takes empathy, in its truest form. It takes a culture shift, it takes action. Let’s stop the injustice now. Let’s not allow another generation to continue to live in a world where they are treated as unequal. Now is the time for real change.”
Casey was a key member of Kentucky’s 1978 National Championship team and later became a well-respected assistant coach and top recruiter for the ‘Cats in the late ’80s. He was the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves – located in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was recently murdered by police which sparked the nationwide protests – from 2005-07. In Detroit, where Casey currently coaches the Pistons, protests have continued throughout the weekend.