*In his first media availability as the official owner of the Jazz, Ryan Smith made a promise to his team and to the community about how the Jazz will go about dealing with matters of social justice.
“It’s not that we’re going to be anti-racist; we’re going to be actively anti-racist as an organization,” Smith said. “And that means we’re going to take our time and our energy, and we’re going to use this platform to help make our communities more equitable from education to health care.”
Welp, this being the United States of America, it didn’t take long for an incident to arise prompting Smith to make good on that promise. Earlier this week, teammate Donovan Mitchell expressed his disgust and sadness over news that a North Ogden, Utah charter elementary school allowed parents to opt their kids out of participating in Black History Month events. The decision, which has since been reversed following backlash, was made after a few parents asked for their kids to not participate.
“I don’t know where to start…. racism is taught… and the fact that kids are being told by their own parents to not learn about black history and black excellence is sickening and sad!! And this is just part of the problem….. Smh,” Mitchell tweeted earlier this week.
Outraged by the story, the Smith and the Jazz are seeking to address the issue head on with its new streaming program, “Black History Heroes,” for all K-12 students in Utah. The series will feature Jazz players, head coach Quin Snyder and owners Ryan and Ashley Smith discussing — and teaching — about Black history. They’ll talk about the people and the events that have helped inspire them, with the hope the message will have the same impact on thousands of Utah students.
Individual sessions will be held with team members for all Utah elementary schools on Feb. 18, junior high schools on Feb. 23, and high schools on Feb. 25. The Black History Heroes discussions will go live at 10 a.m. MT on their respective days and will be available on demand for use as part of school curriculums.
Smith said it was important, too, that the program doesn’t just involve the Black players on the team for this reason: They wanted to help the young students see that Black history is simply everyone’s history.