Dwyane Wade Speaks On The Election And What’s Next For The City Of Chicago

Image courtsey of Ximo Pierto

“I knew it had to be somebody young calling me ‘Mr. Wade.’”

The words above were the first spoken to me by three-time NBA champion and Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade. The Bulls had just lost by 8 points (115–107) in a game against the home team Atlanta Hawks. A day prior, though, America witnessed a surprising upset when we all sat in shock and disbelief when the results of the 2016 election were announced.

President-elect Donald Trump has plans to go into “urban areas” and revitalize them. One of those he has mentioned repeatedly along the campaign trail is Chicago, Wade’s hometown. On that night, protests commenced outside of Trump’s hotel located in the city as protesters shouted at the top of their lungs, “Not my president!” In a conversation that began with only Wade and I, he said, “there is not one or two things needed to improve the quality of life for people in his city. The solutions are more complex than that.”

“It’s a lot going on in the city of Chicago,” Wade said. “Obviously the violence is what everyone points at. When it comes to the chief of police in Chicago, I’ve had conversations with him to just try and see where the need is, talking to the mayor to see where the need is. So, it’s not one or two things. It’s so many different things going on in our city and I don’t think anyone has the answers right now because a lot of things need to be looked at to see where change can happen.”

At this point, other reporters had made their way over and began surrounding Wade and I by asking questions. Wade expressed his interest in doing what he can to help in his community. This is not the first time he has spoken out about the injustices black people face. Most notably, Wade took the stage with his good friends LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony to address police brutality and gun violence at the 2016 Espy Awards. They opened the award show by charging athletes around the world to take a stand with them and use their platforms to make a difference. Wade called for an end to racial profiling, the shoot to kill mentality, and not seeing the value in Black bodies. He also implored civilians to cease in retaliation in an attempt to restore trust between citizens and law enforcement. Wade solicited support from communities to continue the conversation by remembering the riots that led to five police officers being killed and nine injured in Dallas, Tx., the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fl., and the violence that occurs daily in Chicago.

“I hope that obviously as an individual I can do my part, but we need so many others to come help and support,” Wade said.

While the rest of the country was focused on the world going on around them and the strange results of the election, Wade stated that as a professional, it is his job to block the world around him out.

“The election happened, ya know?” Wade said. “You can’t change that. From that standpoint, we’re all professionals in here. We all have to do what we have to do, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do, focus on what we can control, and that’s the only thing that matters.”

Each athlete has a platform to use at their disposal to address social issues. As people who look up to these public figures, we often times expect them to take a stand but do not realize many may not feel comfortable doing so. Wade charged other athletes to follow their hearts and speak out on social issues, but only if they feel motivated to do so.

“If you feel confident about something, then you have the platform to be able to do it,” Wade said. “But if you don’t, then absolutely do not do it. You should never feel pressured into doing anything in this world that you don’t want to do.”

At the conclusion of the other reporters asking their questions, Wade and I stood there alone once again. Still in shock that I had even asked him a question, I continued to have a conversation with him.

As a parent of three young black sons and a nephew, two of which are in high school, Wade has had conversations with his children about how to conduct themselves during encounters with police.

“They obviously ask a lot of questions, and you try to give the best answer you can,” Wade said. “It doesn’t mean you’re going to be right at all, but you give them how you were raised. The biggest thing is, I’m always communicating with them. Any questions they ask, I want them to ask me and I’m going to give them an answer.”

Even when times seem dire, Wade facilitates necessary discussion with his sons to give them access to information and let them grow through their own mistakes.

“Sometimes they’re going to have something to say,” Wade said. “‘But dad, this happened.’ Life ain’t perfect. There’s no one to give you a handbook to say, ‘If you do X, Y and Z, you’ll live this way.’ I give them the pamphlet as a parent and they have to go through life and try to live it and make the right decisions.”

One outlet that Wade uses to share his “story” is the social media app, Snapchat. Wade takes his followers throughout his daily routine of going to the gym, muscle treatments, interacting with his sons, nephew, and wife, actress Gabrielle Union, and enjoying a night out on the town.

I am one of millions of people who follow Wade on Snapchat, and watching his “story” every day has provided me the opportunity to see what his world is like, and even inspired me by seeing his hard work pay off.

“I take people along with me and they can experience, through my Snapchat, how I experience things and how I enjoy things,” Wade said. “It gives them a vision. It gives them hope as well.”

Ayron M. Lewallen is a junior sociology major with a minor in journalism from Wichita, Kansas. He currently attends Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.