Kings Look Within to Affect Change
“Let’s take a moment of silence…”
Those were the first words spoken at the Sacramento Kings Team Member Forum, hosted virtually by Vice President of Kings Academy & Professional Development Galen Duncan, on Friday, June 6.
The moment of silence honored black lives that have been taken due to prejudice or racism at the hands of law enforcement or civilians in the U.S.
The Kings have been front-facing on issues of race and the pursuit of change within the NBA since Stephon Clark was killed in his grandmother’s backyard in Sacramento in 2018.
Since then, the organization has taken steps to ensure they’re in line with issues affecting Black Americans, including their team members.
The forum was a chance for the team to discuss the ongoing racial injustice impacting Black people in our country, protests in downtown Sacramento and the impact the current environment has on everyone in the organization.
Duncan was joined by Dr. Leah Wright-Rigueur, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Dr. Vajra Watson, Director of Research and Policy for Equity at UC Davis, and Kindra Montgomery-Block, Program Officer of The Center at Sierra Health Foundation.
The goal of the conversation was to offer team members the opportunity to learn, be heard, ask questions and get action items to be an active participant in affecting real change.
Wright-Rigueur put it succinctly when she said, “Working for action and equity begins at home.”
The Harvard assistant professor expanded on what should be taken in the day-to-day learning with your Black colleagues and within the organization to make a difference.
"The Kings have are an amazing organization, in particular in terms of outreach, in terms of community partnerships, and the kinds of statements [the Kings] are making on racial justice and equity, but what does it look like at home?"
"[Organizations] need to think about what are they doing in their day-to-day operations that will make changes."
Each panelist left team members with critical takeaways to put their learnings into action.
Kindra Montgomery-Block cited the importance of being an active participant in our democracy.
"We've got to vote like never before,” she said. “Not just on a national level but right here locally.
“We've got to be able to make some decisions and stand people up in the midst of this pandemic and uprising that can really demonstrate the voice of the people."
Watson then reinforced the importance of collective accountability.
"Learning is the soul of social change,” said the UC Davis director. “Because racism and white supremacy are so vetted to a learned ideology, we have to take a lot of steps to unlearn and see fully what [privilege] is.”
Lastly, Wright-Rigueur reminded the group these aren't notes but "survival" action items.
"The reality when we're talking about change and what you can do to maintain change, the best thing you can do is be consistent and be in it for the long haul,” she said. "We're not going to change 400-plus years of history in a matter of days or even years."
The topics covered in the conversation may have been new for some, but highlight the importance of maintaining a routine schedule of conversations that push the organization’s shared understanding forward.
Committed to making real change, in and out of the office, the organization has its sights set on continued momentum.