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Pistons coach Dwane Casey on unrest: 'Nothing seems to be changing'

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Having grown up in the South, Pistons coach Dwane Casey has seen and experienced a fair share of racism in his life, including school desegregation in his native state of Kentucky.  

The recent events in Minneapolis surrounding the death of George Floyd during an interaction with the police this week has stoked powerful emotions and protests across the country. In the midst of the unrest and rioting that is spreading through many major cities.

Dwane Casey

Casey had his first head-coaching job with the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2005-07 and got to know the cultural landscape of Minneapolis, which has become the epicenter of the national discussion on racism and police brutality.

More: Protesters throw M-80s, bricks at Detroit police; tear gas thrown, 21 arrested

On Saturday, Casey released a powerful statement that highlighted his experiences, his opinions of recent events and fears as a father of two children and teaching them about the issues: 

“Fifty-four years ago, I was an eight-year-old boy living in rural Kentucky when the schools were desegregated. I walked into a white school where I was not wanted nor welcomed. At that time there were no cell phones to record my treatment, no cable news stations with 24/7 coverage, no social media to record the reality of the situation or offer support nor condemnation. But I can remember exactly how I felt as an eight-year-old child. I felt helpless. I felt as if I was neither seen, nor heard, nor understood. As I have watched the events unfold in the days following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a city where I coached and once called home, I see how many people continue to feel those same feelings - helpless, frustrated, invisible, angry.

"I understand the outrage because it seems the list continues to grow: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd. The injustices continue to mount and nothing seems to be changing.

"Fifty-four years later, my son is now eight years old and I look at the world he is growing up in and wonder, how much has really changed? How often is he judged on sight? Is he growing up in a world where he is seen, and heard, and understood? Does he feel helpless? Will he be treated like George Floyd or Ahmaud Abrey? What have we really done in the last 54 years to make his eight-year-old world better than mine was? We all have to be and do better.

"We have to change the way we see and hear each other. We have to work together to find solutions to make the justice system just. Black, white and brown people have to work together to find new answers. The only way we can stop the systemic problems that people of color have faced all our lives is through honesty and transparency. We have to understand why people are at their limit at this moment. It takes empathy, in its truest form. It takes a culture shift, it takes action. Let’s stop the injustice now. Let’s not allow another generation to continue to live in a world where they are treated as unequal. Now is the time for real change.”

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard