Arena: Team USA supports Carmelo Anthony on Discussion about Social Issues

After a recent Instagram post urging fellow athletes to address police brutality, Carmelo Anthony took matters into his own hands. He gathered more than 200 people at the Challengers Boys and Girls Club in Los Angeles on Monday to have an open discussion about the growing conflict between civilians and police officers to make a change going forward. The room was filled with people, but the gathering was intimate and attendees ranged from young people to police officers, and even the men's and women's national basketball teams. The gathering was not open to reporters in order to ensure a certain comfort level among the diverse crowd. Melo wanted everyone to have the opportunity to speak openly about the tension and fear following the recent string of murders by police. After addressing the issue at hand, people were broken into smaller groups for more personal discussions, which included personal experiences. 

“The youth really, really spoke out today about how they feel about their community, how they feel about police officers, how they feel about relationships, and how we can mend these relationships,” Anthony said, adding: “We know that nothing is going to happen overnight. But what we wanted to do was create something that we start right now.”

On the same day of Anthony's event, Michael Jordan also sprung into action. The legend has never been one to comment on social issues, but he spoke about the racial tension with conviction. Jordan said that he was "deeply troubled" by the killings and expressed the need for social change. 

“As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers,” Jordan said.

He also made two donations of $1 million to two organizations that help the cause: the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Institute for Community-Police Relations. Carmelo Anthony praised the superstar for speaking out and taking action in the midst of a crisis. Jordan is one of the biggest social icons and when he speaks, everyone listens. As someone who likes to stay out of the public eye, Jordan's sudden leap into social activism could not have better timing.  He is idolized by thousands and has the resources to help institute change. Perhaps it was a sense of urgency that sparked Jordan's action. The lingering issue could not wait any longer as Anthony  set aside a frenzy of pre Olympic events to tackle the issue. As a public figure, he could have donated his money, but his time is the key factor that indicates a sense of commitment to making change. He recognizes his platform as an athlete and the influence he has on the general public and others definitely followed his lead. He received support from fellow NBA stars, including Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. He has also inspired WNBA players to use their platform to raise awareness about social issues. WNBA teams such as The Fever, Liberty, and Mercury were fined $5,000 each, while their players were fined $500 for wearing black t-shirts to protest the recent string of violence. Anthony and other players expressed frustration over the fines and urged the WNBA to show support just as the league addressed other tragedies such as the Orlando shooting and various social issues. The league eventually rescinded the fines and stated that although they would like their players to wear their uniforms, they understand the need to use their platform for issues of importance. 

Anthony is now the face of the campaign for social equality and vows to continue hosting more events that facilitate communication between civilians and police officers. Just two weeks ago, Anthony took the stage at the ESPYS to address his concerns. He stood alongside his famous friends, Lebron James, Chris Paul, and Dwayne Wade to send a powerful message. 

In the speech, Melo talked about immediate action:

"The system is broken, the problems are not new, the violence is not new, and the racial divide definitely is not new, but the urgency for change is definitely at an all time-high," said Anthony. 

He has continued to be outspoken throughout the aftermath of the killings, inspiring countless athletes to speak out. Melo expressed the importance of a collective effort in order to create change and his critical meeting inspired a sense of unity. Police officers stated that it was different to hear about the issues from the youth themselves, talking about genuine fears and speaking with emotion. The athletes comforted the kids at times, encouraging them to speak openly about their feelings and past experiences. This initiative was extremely successful and  created a comfortable atmosphere for both sides. The recent trend has been breaking people up into two sides: people vs police. Melo made it a point to unite both sides so that they can create a strong relationship built on trust in the face of hatred. He will continue to strive toward social change through open communication. The world is his stage and the show is only beginning.