Confronting prejudice and discrimination in basketball and society
Racism is the subject of the latest Table Talk documentary presented by Euroleague Basketball. The hard-hitting and thought-provoking documentary was produced in support of Not in Our World, Euroleague Basketball's joint awareness campaign with the EuroLeague Players' Association. It uncovers the prejudices and discrimination faced by black basketball players as they attempt to build their careers, and also considers the wider social implications of this urgent issue.
Several Turkish Airlines EuroLeague players speak candidly about their experiences, including Howard Sant-Roos of Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, Shaquielle McKissic of Olympiacos Piraeus and Ilimane Diop of TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
Former Valencia player Larry Abia and FC Barcelona women's team player Magatte Niang also feature, and Abia recalls a particularly disturbing incident of racism when he was refused the opportunity to rent an apartment because of his skin color.
"I remember we were looking for apartments for that season. One day I went to an appointment and two older Spanish people came. They were the owners. I saw that they were looking at me in a bad way. I said 'Hello' and they turned around surprised, as if they had not seen me. I was the only other person there. Then they told me that the apartment had already been rented. I replied 'It can't be. How can that be? I am the first to come and see it. How can it be rented already?' As I was turning, I heard the husband say 'We won't rent it to him because he's from abroad. He's black'."
Sant-Roos, who was born and grew up in Cuba, explained in his sit-down chat with McKissic that he only first encountered racism when he moved to Italy as a teenager.
"I didn't experience racism until I moved to Europe with my mom. I moved to Italy when I was 15. That was…my very first experience with racism... And it was my first time that I got kicked out of a place. I went to this barbershop and the guy that's supposed to be cutting hair was just there sitting, doing nothing. So obviously I'm next, 'cause nobody else is. So I entered and he said to me, 'In this barbershop, unfortunately, we don't cut this kind of hair, so you have to leave.' And then he grabbed my arm and he led me to the door."
The video also features a heartfelt conversation between slam dunk champion Marquie Smith and journalist Moha Gerehou, who gave a startling example of everyday racism rooted in a lack of education:
"Talking about ignorance. I remember once when I was in the university, and one of my classmates asked me if we – black people – when we go to the shower, if our skin was fading in the shower. And I was like, what kind of question is that?!"
Diop was filmed having an emotional meeting with a Nigerian immigrant, Blessing, who lives in Vitoria-Gasteiz and whose son is part of Baskonia's youth and One Team CSR program. Blessing explained that she always feels like an outsider in Europe.
"There is racism everywhere... there must be a demarcation between you and whites. We don't have opportunity like white people because this is their land. Here is not my land, so we cannot be equal, we cannot be the same. They cannot treat us the way they treat themselves."
The film is the fifth Table Talk documentary produced by Euroleague Basketball. Past features include Women in Sports, Athletes' Retirement, Mental Health in Sports, and Playing Overseas. These films add to Euroleague Basketball's commitment to premium, long-form content by taking the discussion beyond the court to encompass all aspects of the sport and its protagonists.