“It’s a great time for people to listen”: Dawn Staley on searching for answers in a time of crisis

COLUMBIA, S.C. — After seeing the video of George Floyd’s death, Dawn Staley has been left with questions that don’t seem to have answers.

“What if it was us? What if it was your brother, your nephew, your father?” Staley said.

She’s never shied away from speaking out against injustice, this week was no exception.

“My heart told me to speak out” Staley said. “My heart feels for George Floyd and his family, and all the deaths that happened in our country. It leaves us answerless. I just felt like I’ve got to get up and do something.”

So she did something. Staley attended Saturday’s peaceful protest at the State House to show support and share her voice, but more importantly to listen.

“I’m just trying to find answers so I can share with as many people as possible,” Staley said.

That includes her players. Coaching has always been about more than the game of basketball for Staley. Now, she has the difficult task of helping navigate her team through these divided times, and help them find some answers of their own.

She’s holding a Zoom call with her players on Tuesday, giving them a platform to let their voices and frustrations be heard as her own words are hard to find.

“I don’t know what to say to them.” Staley said. “This is the world that we live in. So if we can start voicing the things that we want changed, they will be equipped with knowledge to make that change.”

One of the few answers she has been able to find in the last week is simple: vote.

“If you want change, you have to put people in office that’s going to change and protect people,” Staley said. “Not just people they look like, or sound like, or grew up like. You have to protect everybody.”

In normal times, sports provide an escape, or a distraction from the hardships of the “real” world. These are not normal times, and in a world without sports, there is no escape from the protests happening around America — and the reasons behind them.

“It’s a great time for people to listen,” Staley said. “Hopefully change can be made. Once sports come back, we’ll have a bigger platform.”



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