(English version without translation)
Here the last episode of our new project called : « Enough Is Enough ». During the next weeks, you will be able to read a testimony of someone living in Detroit-area or Michigan about many current topics : racism, US society, police brutalities, social injustices… The Pistons France Team wanted to give a worldwide stage in order to denounce some facts about America.
Today our guest is James Edwards III (/JLEdwardsIII), a Flint native and the Detroit Pistons beat writer for The Athletic.
Pistons France : First of all, can you present yourself for our followers who don’t know you yet. A short presentation because obviously it’s not our main topic today.
James Edwards : My name is James Edwards, and I cover the Detroit Pistons for The Athletic. I’m 28 and from Flint, Michigan.
P.F. : What do you think about the current movement in the USA? We saw many confrontations between citizens and police officers in several cities. How do you feel when you watch it as black man and beat writer?
J.E. : In order for there to be progress, you need disruption, you need people to feel uncomfortable. The BLM protests that have consumed 2020 are just a continuation of what’s been done forever. People of color — black people specifically — just want to feel equal. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s 2020 and there are still instances in which people of color are shown that their life doesn’t matter as much as others.
P.F. : Can you describe the current atmosphere in your workplace? Do you think you (as black man) are sustained, helped and understood in this movement by your coworkers in The Athletic redaction?
J.E. : The Athletic has been nothing but supportive throughout this year, whether we’re talking about BLM or COVID-19. Our leaders have shown support and initiative and have been understanding of our feelings. Leadership has allowed us to talk about and write about lack of equality in life and how it pertains to sports. They’ve been nothing but supportive.
P.F. : As beat writer, how would you describe this type of period? Do you think medias could be part of the problem or contrary, could be a good solution to change the minds by trying to help the BLM?
J.E. : This is a period that we’ll look back at in 10 years as a turning point in this country. We will have either shown great unity and togetherness, or have taken a step back and re-entered this egotistical realm that, if you ask me, is the source of many problems in this country.
The media plays its part, both good and bad, sure. At the end of the day, though, it comes down to humanity. Dislike people because of how they treated you, not because of how they look or dress. That’s really all it comes down to. People are born into certain mindsets and then go their entire lives without diversifying their lives, and it leads to singular thinking and ideologies.
P.F. : How did you react when you saw the Milwaukee Bucks boycotting their Playoffs games? Do you the League did enough during the Bubble?
J.E. : Loved what the Bucks did. Obviously, the Jacob Blake situation happened in their backyard, and I thought it was right that they were the first team to do something that shook up the sports world and the news cycle. They did it discreetly, which I liked. No one knew it was coming until it was time to know.
As for the NBA, yes, the league did enough in the bubble. It allowed players and teams to send messages, to use the platform to speak freely. The broadcast companies allowed its broadcasters to speak about it on their airwaves. The NBA are frontrunners in this regard.
P.F. : Do you think this kind of protest – boycotting events – could be extended in others sports or arts such as cinema, music…? Do you think it’s a good solution to change things?
J.E. : That’s a good question. I think there are instances outside of sports in which boycotting could be used and used well. Certainly. Now, NBA players live a different life financially than these other professions, and most can afford to boycott or protest or not play, so I think that needs to be factored in when discussing if others can afford to do it. Still, a message is a message. Boycotts and protests get people talking. I’ll always be for expression as long as it’s for the greater good of humanity.
P.F. : As NBA Fan, do you think we can make some noise at our scale even though we don’t have the power of NBA players? What could we do to help the BLM?
J.E. : Another great question. Just fight the good fight along with these players. I assume if you watch the NBA, a predominantly black league that has regularly supported social issues regarding black people, you are someone who shares the same ideas and beliefs as the players. Get out in the streets and protest. Diversify your friend group. Look into why this fight is so important and the history behind racism in this country. Let people know you’re an ally.
P.F. : How do you describe the current atmosphere in Detroit? Do you believe Motown could be one of the main cities to help and support the Black Lives Matter?
J.E. : I’d say things have settled in Detroit a bit. There aren’t as many protests, though there are some here and there. Obviously, with COVID, things aren’t totally back to normal, but as far as BLM goes, the fight is still being fought, it’s just not as in your face as it was a few months ago.
P.F. : As a black American, do you have a personal testimony to share with us? A bad moment where you saw or lived the racism against you? Maybe during your childhood or your career?
J.E. : Of course. I’d rather not get into detail on specifics, but it certainly has happened … more than once. It happens fairly often. It’s not always overt — it rarely is — but there are situations in which you’re being watched a little closer because of how you look or how you dress.
P.F. : As American citizen, how do you protest against the inequalities, injustices? Do you participate in the massive demonstration in streets? For you, what is the best way to protest and change the US society?
J.E. : I’ve gone to protests, I’ve donated, I’ve put my money into black-owned businesses. The best way for me to make change is to continue to inform people on why black people still feel the need to fight, why we’re not equal and the built-in fabric of our country that makes it tough for people of color to prosper.
P.F. : You are a former MSU alumni. Do you think the system of American universities is good enough or well-prepared to prevent from racism? Or racism is very expanded in these universities?
J.E. : I’ll just say this: A lot of kids fortunate enough to go to college and have their parents pay for everything are privileged and likely haven’t dealt with too many people who aren’t just like them. That’s not the case for all. I’m not saying that. I’d say a good amount, though. At MSU, and most universities, a lot of these kids come to campus from the same areas of the country/world and have similar backgrounds. Not many have had to interact with those who think differently, move differently and/or live differently. College — all of them — need to do a better job of including more walks of life at their universities. The world is a melting point. College is supposed to prepare you for the world. It does in some aspects, and it fails in others.