Recently, LeBron James’ home in Los Angeles was vandalized. Someone spraypainted the N word on the front gate.

He spoke about the incident here. Worth watching.

it’s also well known LBJ does a ton of community work for his hometown Akron, Ohio and does a lot for young black people. His foundation is working to pay for over 1,000 children to attend college. Things like that. He mentioned it doesn’t matter how famous you are or how much money you have... hate crimes and racism are still a serious problem in the US (and all over the world).

It’s not just black people. Muslims, Hindus, Latinos, Jews, Asians, gays, lesbians, transgender people are all subject to this kind of bigotry. Many of them are forced to deal with it on a daily basis. I knew someone in graduate school who was transgender and he moved away from his hometown of Binghampton because people could not bear the fact he was different. I remember a Jewish classmate back in high school complain about someone making Hitler jokes to them.

Maybe I’ve told this story before but I had a terrible time in middle school through high school. See, my town is an upper middle class bubble statistically dominated by white people. When I was growing up here we were one of about 5 or 6 families in the district that wasn’t white. Not that there’s anything wrong with white people... but for instance I had a hard time making friends and such cause I wasn’t white enough. We had money but not country club money. My family wasn’t a member of the local bath club and we didn’t go on exotic vacations to Cancun or Africa or Europe every school break. A lot of my frustration back then came from not being able to break that barrier and never really finding a way to fit in.

But those issues were much smaller compared to what I dealt with on a day to day basis, going to public school as a Muslim kid post 9/11. I played baseball and soccer through our school during 7-8th grade. I quit, not just because I wasn’t very good, but the constant racist remarks and harassment I’d get. Those of you who played sports growing up know what a vile place the locker room can be. I got tired of being pantsed and felt uncomfortable having to change in the same room as these guys due to the harassment.

One day my father picked me up after practice in his Mercedes. A teammate yapped at us while I was entering the car “Which oil company does he own?” The license plate clearly said MD on it anyways. That kind of ignorance I dealt with on a daily basis. I wasn’t appreciated for the person I was. Instead I was labeled terrorist or sand nigger. One kid would see me in the hallway and immediately pretend to be a plane and fly into the walls. Some kid left a note on my table during lunch one day that said “I’m scared the terrorists will kill me, AKA Nibby.” I brought that to the school principal and told her “I know exactly who wrote this, I help him with his homework all the time.” “Oh, well I can’t really do anything about that.” The school administration and staff were bloody useless. They were more interested in maintaining their public country club school image than anything else. Same thing happened to my Hindu friend I grew up with in our school. There was another Muslim boy in my grade and he dealt with it too. We kinda stuck together, enduring it. A few years after high school, the Muslim guy’s younger brother hung himself. He was in 10th grade.

If you were the slightest bit different you’d be mocked. That’s fundamental problem that exists almost everywhere. And I am not trying to defend those who are racist but sometimes you have to keep in mind if that person grew up in a predominantly white community, they didn’t have that exposure to different cultures, skin colors, religions, sexual preferences and don’t really know the proper way to interact with them. But that doesn’t mean shouting bigoted remarks and such is okay. It never is.

Luckily since high school I really never had to deal with much racism directed towards me, but those experiences really make me wonder there must be thousands of children growing up who get bullied the way I did or deal with cyber bullying just because some of their peers don’t want to take the time to get ot know them. There’s a fundamental problem in our society whenever an explosion/shooting happens and the first question is “Was any terrorist activity involved?” The media has created this fear driven environment.

And I know there are plenty plenty plenty of activists who are white, brown, black, etc. who do a ton of work to fight against these problems. And they need to keep doing it and get recognized for it.

There’s nothing wrong with our differences and in fact I think it makes people a lot more interesting when you’re with a diverse group of people. People shouldn’t be so worried about judging people by race, religion, sexuality and moreso focus on does this person have good intentions, morals, heart...

Even if you’re the best basketball player in the world, you still have to deal with issues that everyday people deal with. And LBJ does so much work for black people and fighting racism and intolerance. By using his name and status as a top NBA player as a platform he serves as a role model for millions of children of color. He’s so much more than just a player. And that’s why (even though they lost last night) I’m rooting for the Cavs in the NBA finals.