Why Donovan Mitchell Says He Wants To Talk To Utah Lawmakers


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Utah Jazz goalie Donovan Mitchell moves with the ball during the game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 27, 2021. In an interview with GQ, Mitchell said he wanted to speak to lawmakers about the ‘Utah from the recent ban. critical concepts of racial theory in schools. Advocates say her voice can make a difference in promoting equity and teaching important issues in schools. (Annie Barker, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Advocates praise Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell’s announcement over the weekend that he wants to speak to Utah lawmakers about Critical Race Theory as part of a recent push by the state to ban its teaching in schools.

“It means a lot, because he’s a person who has some type of privilege, to be a professional athlete here in the state of Utah. He’s very respected; he’s a young African American man. not know its politics – it is not even important to know its politics. But it is important to talk about the importance of teaching an accurate history in America, and also to tell the truth about what critical theory is of race, ”said Darlene McDonald, president of the Utah Black Roundtable and member of the Salt Lake City Commission on Racial Equity in Policing.

Mitchell, who is a member of the New NBA Social Justice Coalition, told GQ magazine he wanted to voice his concerns to lawmakers in the critical debate over racial theory.

“It’s one thing to tweet it – and I’m going to keep tweeting it – but being able to be on the phone and be on those calls with people who know these things means being able to make an impact, myself.” , Mitchell said in the article.

McDonald said she did not know who Mitchell had spoken to about Critical Race Theory, but he is known as someone who educates himself on issues and “speaks the truth to power.”

“And he would contact other educators, as well as experts in critical breed theory, to get the correct definition of what critical breed theory is,” she said.

Mitchell can then take the information to lawmakers and say, “This is what I know, and this is what I would like you to know,” McDonald said.

“And he’s a person who can do it, so I welcome him to the fight to just educate properly. And that’s all we ask people, especially lawmakers, is to know the truth. about what critical race theory is and not buying into misinformation, and that’s it. He’s the one who can do that, “she added.

In a special session in May, lawmakers approved two resolutions urging the Utah Board of Education to ban what lawmakers consider to be critical concepts of “harmful” racial theory. During a debate on the resolutions, some lawmakers said they did not understand what critical race theory is, but feared it could harm students.

According to a definition from the American Bar Association’s Critical Theory of Race, the theory recognizes “that race is not biologically real, but is socially constructed and socially significant.” The theory also recognizes “that racism is a normal feature of society and is embedded in systems and institutions, such as the legal system, that reproduce racial inequalities. This rejects the idea that racist incidents are aberrations but are rather manifestations of structural and systemic racism. “

Blair Hodges, an advocate who started the popular social media group Utah Jazz Fans Against Racism, said he was delighted Mitchell was speaking out because many fans on the team “are getting more energetic and interested. to join the cause he defends. “

“I like that Donovan values ​​the truth in his beliefs more than he appreciates public accolades, and on that matter, I think it takes a lot of courage. But also, he seems like the kind of person who is. just pushed to tell the truth about these things, and so it seems like he’s the kind of guy who can’t just ‘shut up and dribble’ as people would say, and I’m happy for that, ”said Hodges.

Noting the Utahns’ respect for Mitchell on the basketball court, McDonald said she hoped he could “at least get them to listen.”

“Some people dug, I mean, they just dug, and you won’t be able to influence everyone’s hearts and minds. But if you can just reach a few people who are willing to just listen, he can. “He’s the kind of person who can do it, especially for the younger ones. Especially for the young people who may be confused about what the adults in the room are discussing,” McDonald said.

“He could really reach out to young people and say, ‘It’s important for us to have training on diversity, equity and equality in education and factual history, and that’s what it is. important, ”said McDonald, noting that critical race theory has been misinterpreted by many.

“It’s so important for us to have this type of education so that we can really work on racial and social justice in this country,” she said.

McDonald said she hoped Mitchell would also meet with lawmakers of color at the State Capitol.

“They feel like they’ve been silenced in this whole conversation because they are the minority. They are the minority within the minority within the minority,” she said.

“So I hope he meets them too and just say ‘How can I help you?’ Because they need his help, they need his voice. “

McDonald said she wanted to tell Mitchell to “keep up the good work.”

“One person can make a difference, and Donovan Mitchell, he can make a difference.”

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