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02/03/2017 10:16 am ET

Gregg Popovich Nails Exactly Why Black History Month Is So Necessary

And why we can never stop talking about race, either.
Christian Petersen via Getty Images

Before the San Antonio Spurs went up against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night, San Antonio Express-News reporter Jabari Young asked Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich what, exactly, Black History Month means to him. 

Popovich has spoken eloquently on the current political climate multiple times in 2016, and on Thursday night, he did so again, telling Young that he saw Black History Month as serving multiple purposes, each of them important.

“It’s always important to remember what has passed and what is being experienced now by the black population,” Popovich said. “It’s a celebration of some of the good things that have happened, and a reminder that there’s a lot more work to do.”

“But more than anything,” he continued, “I think if people take the time to think about it, I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with, ‘I’m tired of talking about that,’ or, ‘Do we have to talk about race again?’ And the answer is: You’re damned right we do.”

The country’s racial issues are “systemic,” Popovich said, creating an unfair societal infrastructure that inhibits many people of color from pursuing the American dream.

“It’s not about, ‘Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American dream.’ That’s a bunch of hogwash,” Popovich said. “If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage educationally, economically, culturally in this society.”

“Whether it’s in a judicial sense, a neighborhood sense ― with laws, zoning, education ― we have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated, but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve,” he added.

Read Popovich’s full answer, courtesy of ESPN’s Michael C. Wright

Well, it’s a remembrance, and a bit of a celebration in some ways. It sounds odd because we’re not there yet, but it’s always important to remember what has passed and what is being experienced now by the black population. It’s a celebration of some of the good things that have happened, and a reminder that there’s a lot more work to do. But more than anything, I think if people take the time to think about it, I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with, “I’m tired of talking about that,” or “Do we have to talk about race again?” And the answer is: You’re damned right we do. Because it’s always there, and it’s systemic in the sense that when you talk about opportunity it’s not about, “Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American dream.” That’s a bunch of hogwash. If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage educationally, economically, culturally in this society and all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense, a neighborhood sense with laws, zoning, education, we have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated, but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve. It’s a tough one because people don’t really want to face it. And it’s in our national discourse. We have a president of the United States who spent four or five years disparaging and trying to illegitimatize our president. And we know that was a big fake. But still, [he] felt for some reason it had to be done. I can still remember a paraphrase close to a quote — “Investigators were sent to Hawaii and you cannot believe what they found.” Well, that was a lie. So if it’s being discussed and perpetrated at that level, you’ve got a national problem. I think that’s enough.

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BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
29 Classic Black Movies To Watch In Honor Of Black History Month
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