Lamar Stevens, Penn State Hoops Coaching Staff Discuss Racial Injustice In America

Penn State men’s basketball head coach Pat Chambers, assistant coach Kevin Freeman, and former star player Lamar Stevens sat down Wednesday morning to discuss racial injustice in the United States, as many people continue to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police.

Chambers opened up the conversation by discussing how he had two team meetings over the last four days — one with the team itself and the other with the families of the players. After these meetings, Chambers said that he and his players came to an agreement that instead of releasing a statement, they wanted to have a discussion.

Lamar Stevens then opened up about what was going through his head as he was making a speech at the “Justice For George Floyd” protest in State College.

“For me, I never talk about anything but basketball,” Stevens said. “I wanted to give myself a chance to say my piece and my opinion on everything that is going on.”

Freeman went on to ask Stevens who inspired him to stand up in front of that crowd and give that speech and to speak up. Stevens acknowledged that his parents instilled a lot in him that led him to be the kind of person to spread that message.

“I definitely think my parents inspired me. Something my parents always said was sometimes you can’t just talk about it, sometimes you got to be about it,” Stevens said. “I saw [speaking at the protest] as an opportunity because I have been preaching to my black friends, my white friends about how important everything is that is going on.”

Freeman added what message he gave the team and their families in their meeting on Monday, and what his view of what needs to happen for, not just the team, but the community to become stronger.

“I told them we have to sit before we stand, and what I meant by that is we have to sit and have discussions about racial inequality, racism, and police brutality,” Freeman said. “And then once we do that, now we can stand as a unit and stand together. We can take our ideas and our differences and stand peacefully and we can protest.”

Chambers moved the conversation into a different direction and talked about what white people should be doing. He alluded to the fact that it seems white people are finally fed up with the actions that are occurring in the world. He then turned to Stevens and Freeman and asked them what they wanted to see from white people as African-American men.

“You can no longer just say you’re not a racist. ‘I’m not a racist’ is not good enough. You got to say ‘I am fighting racism. I can’t see something and not act upon it or talk about it or report it,” Freeman said.

“There’s no more being silent about it,” Stevens added. “Guys can’t even go on a jog peacefully without being accused of robbing somebody and losing their life! There’s no more time to take this lightly. It’s time to educate yourself and understand what we go through.”

After that, Chambers asked directly what he could be doing different and what the country as a whole can be doing different.

“I think it’s going to take time. I think we are taking the right steps, the right approach to continue to have these conversations. I keep bringing up education, but we also have to eliminate the guilt. It’s not everybody,” Freeman said. “We have to keep moving, this can’t just last a day or a week. I have to understand the man next to me, and that means we have to cross cultures. The more we cross cultures, the more we see that we are all the same.”

“What I think you can do to help is have these conversations within your family,” Stevens added. “I’ve seen it, and I’ve experienced it. What I want is for my kids to never have to experience it. If we have these conversations with the next generation of kids, and educate them on what’s going on in the world, we can have them understand that everybody is equal.

“It won’t be a quick change, but if we can have these conversations and continue to have them with the youth, then the next wave is going to make it better, and that’s all I can ask for,” Stevens continued.

Chambers went on to add that everyone needs to stay consistent with these actions and conversations.

“It is important that when July and August hit and when [coronavirus] is no longer an issue and the business of life hits us, that we continue these conversations at the same strength that they’re at now,” Chambers added.

Lamar Stevens closed out the conversation with a message to fans of not just Penn State basketball, but for fans of Penn State athletics.

“To the people who follow Penn State athletics, don’t just love us when we have the uniform on. Love us when we are protesting in the street for equal rights. Support us just as much as you would if we were in the Bryce Jordan Center or the guys across the street in Beaver Stadium,” Stevens said. “Let’s come together like we do at those sporting events and fight for those equal rights.

“That will be a huge step not just for State College, but for the Penn State community. We should come together and fight for everything we deserve and for everything that this country is supposed to be: equal rights. That’s all I can ask,” Stevens added.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey was a Secondary Education major before he graduated from the wonderful institution known as Penn State. When he was not writing for the blog, he enjoyed rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor," and yes mom, actually doing school work. All of this work prepared him to teach his own class of students, which was always his true passion. He still can be found on Twitter @theowenabbey and can be reached for questions and comments at [email protected]

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