A PRIVILEGED PERSPECTIVE
Written by Adam Kroot
Before I get into everything, I want to thank Steven for starting Naptown’s Notorious and giving people from Indy a platform to share their thoughts and experiences. I might be the least athletically accomplished athlete to write on this website, and you might not care about or agree with what I have to say. I just hope my unique perspective on the current climate of America will transcend sport and provoke some deep thought for whomever decides to read it. Thank you for the opportunity to help further the conversation. Enjoy…
I was born into a white, well-off family in 1995. Did I choose this? Hell no. Pure, incontrovertible chance willed it. I am the DEFINITION of white privilege.
I have a loving mother and father, a roof to sleep under, food to eat, car to drive, and the fate of my future in the palm of my hands. I’ve attended private school my whole life. Preschool through 8th grade at Orchard, high school at Brebeuf Jesuit, and college at Williams, a prestigious, private, liberal arts school in Massachusetts. I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the world since I can remember. Family ski outings, trips to places all around the world such as Hawaii and Israel, vacations with friends in the Bahamas, Paris, Barcelona, and so much more.
Love. Money. Top of the line education. Safety. These are all luxuries that I had from simply being born into the family I was at the time I was. Granted, prior generations in my family busted their asses to get to where we are now, and I will never apologize for it, but I firmly believe and was taught that I have a responsibility to use that privilege to help lift others.
America is rigged for people born into situations like mine to succeed. Fortunately, I was exposed to “the other side of America” at a young age, where the odds are mightily stacked against you and everything is earned. Playing basketball growing up, I had teammates from a multitude of backgrounds: white, black, Hispanic, you name it. At the time, it never really occurred to me that we came from different environments. We just had fun playing the game that we love.
My dad was my coach since the 3rd grade. It was around this time that rec league hoops turned into travel ball, so rather than players having to drive 5 minutes to the local elementary school, our games were scattered around the state and eventually the country. We started picking up my teammates at their houses, and I immediately noticed the stark difference between where I lived versus many of them. Some had single parent households with other siblings, and their parents couldn’t drive them around or watch their games because they had to work multiple jobs and provide for the family. Some even lived with their grandparents because their parents were unfit to take care of them. These are a few of the many things I started to pick up on and question.
When teammates would stay at my house for the weekend during tournaments, it was unlike anything many of them had ever seen. From playing intense basketball games both in the garage and in the pool, watching classic movies such as “Rush Hour,” “The Longest Yard,” and “Semi Pro,” to 2K tournaments in the game room, we always had the best time. It not only made me keenly aware of and thankful for how fortunate I was, but it also made me realize how sick and twisted our world is. Here we were, young kids from a variety of races and socio-economic situations, having the absolute time of our lives on and off the court, yet the rest of the world was full of racism and hate. I could not wrap my mind around it.
Unfortunately, I had to educate myself on these issues predominantly through experiences with basketball, from stories of prominent athletes, actors or singers who made it out of tough situations, or by watching relevant movies and TV shows. I went to some of the best schools in the area growing up, but I didn’t take a single class dedicated to black history or the current status of our country’s African American citizens of any sort until my time at Williams. It was there that I learned the truth about police brutality, mass incarceration and other racial injustices that are inherent to our system. The fact that it took so that long to learn about these things in depth is a major issue in itself.