Raptors kneel before national anthems with focus on ending systemic racism

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The Toronto Raptors followed up on their promise to kneel during the national anthem to create further awareness around social justice movements, with a specific focus on ending police brutality and systemic racism concentrated toward Black people.

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse told reporters this week that he anticipated that his team would kneel for both the U.S. and Canadian national anthems, prior to Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“This isn’t about countries, this isn’t about borders. To me, this is about continuing to shine a light on how we need to do better in the police brutality area, we need to do better in systemic racism area. That’s not just Canada or America, that’s a lot of places. So we treat that as one long song,” Nurse said.

Toronto entered the NBA bubble last month with three buses reading “Black Lives Matter” which gained the attention and wide-spread praise of the basketball community. Raptors president Masai Ujiri - one of the few Black executives in the league - has spoken about the importance of awareness of racism at every stage, has spoken candidly about anti-Black bias in front offices, and the team recently named John Wiggins as their vice president of organization, culture and inclusion.

These aren’t issues the Raptors’ organization takes lightly, with several players initially stating their displeasure about the limited options on the messages they could wear on the back of their uniforms, in an effort to spread awareness about myriad issues, topics and problems that often disproportionately affect Black people.

Related link: Kyle Lowry: NBA protest aimed at solving problems for future generations

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