Seton Hall basketball players discuss current racial climate on NAACP panel

This year has been marked by uproar and protests after the killing of numerous unarmed Black Americans, including Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. The debate over what must be done to combat injustice and racism has raged across all segments of society—including sports. 

And members of Seton Hall’s men’s basketball team have not hesitated to make their voices heard.

Four members of the team—Sandro Mamukelashvili, Myles Cale, Jared Rhoden and Shavar Reynolds—participated in an NAACP panel Monday night and discussed their views on the current climate of racial unrest. They were joined by Maryland’s Eric Ayala and former Monmouth University forward Eric Tilghman, both of whom played basketball with Cale in Delaware.

All four Pirates offered their insight on the Black Lives Matter movement. Both Cale and Rhoden spoke about the movement’s priority of spreading awareness about the innocent lives taken by police brutality and the hope it instills in young black children for a better future. 

Reynolds added that the movement is a good starting point but that real change can only come from lawmakers like politicians.

“Black Lives Matter is a peaceful movement to stop systematic racism and police brutality,” Mamukelashvili said. “I have a lot of friends who are people of color and I’m all for helping them. Everybody should do their part and help the people in need right now.”

The players’ views were more mixed on the topic of protests. Rhoden praised the protests but criticized how some people’s zeal for change has died down along with most of the protests across the country. Cale and Mamukelashvili both attended protests over the summer.

“I actually went to a peaceful protest,” Cale said. “It had good energy and it felt great to be there. After [the protest] you don’t see a lot of change, you see it dying down after a while.”

Rhoden, Cale and Reynolds praised the Big East and Seton Hall’s coaching staff for their response to the burgeoning crisis, including the Big East’s decision to have Black Lives Matter patches displayed on every basketball player’s uniform in the upcoming season.

“We had numerous meetings, [the coaches] were very supportive and helpful to us. They gave us the platform to speak and express ourselves,” Reynolds said.

In terms of solutions going forward, both Reynolds and Cale spoke about increasing calls by some activists to defund police departments. Cale and Rhoden offered solutions like police reaching out more to the community and improving the training of officers.

“I feel like they need to be trained a little better and not flash their guns right away,” Cale said. “It’s part of the racism, they do it because they see a Black guy and they get scared of us. We need to recruit and train police better so they learn not to shoot first and handle the situations better.”

Matthew Collins can be reached at matthew.collins@student.shu.edu

Author: Matthew Collins

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