If anyone knows racism and systemic injustice— It’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Milwaukee Bucks basketball star was born in a homogeneously ethnic country that had laws in place to prevent people like him from even existing legally, let alone advancing in society.
Even though Giannis was born in Greece— his Nigerian parents disqualified him from equal rights with other “ethnic” Greek kids that he shot hoops with in the courts of Sepolia while he was growing up.
Without legal status, every day activities like registering for school or finding a job were complicated, if impossible.
In addition to the open and blatant racism that he experienced on the streets, in the media and in Greek society in general, there were laws on the books preventing him from even obtaining Greek citizenship.
Greek law prevented hundreds of thousands of these Greek-born kids whose parents emigrated to Greece to work to obtain legal status in the country, forcing them to live in a sort of “no-man’s land” of existence.
The result— by 2014 it was estimated that there were about 200,000 such kids living in Greece without legal status— even though they were born in the country.
Of course, being a black kid in a country that is 99.9% Caucasian wasn’t easy.
So his participation in yesterday’s peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration in Milwaukee runs a bit deeper and more profound. He’s demonstrating from the heart and the frustration he’s feeling certainly comes from his own experiences growing up in Greece.
Several Milwaukee Bucks players joined the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player as they marched down 27th Street.
Antetokounmpo was joined by Bucks teammates Sterling Brown, Donte DiVincenzo, Brook Lopez, Frank Mason and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Giannis’ brother.
The group wore identical gray T-shirts with the slogan “I can’t breathe” printed on the front. All the players wore masks and gloves due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Antetokounmpo’s girlfriend, Mariah Riddlesprigger, and their young son, Liam, also made an appearance.
“This is our city, man,” Antetokounmpo said. “We got to come out here and support.”
The crowd roared its approval.
“We want change, we want justice, and that’s why we’re out here,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s what we’re going to do today. That’s why I’m going to march with you.
“I want my kid to grow up here in Milwaukee, and not to be scared to walk in the streets. I don’t want my kid to have hate in his heart.”
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