NBA All-Star 2021 will be dedicated to supporting HBCUs and communities of color that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday (March 3), days before the annual All-Star event, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association released a statement detailing their intentions to lessen the racial disparities that “have been grossly exacerbated” in the wake of the health crisis.
As cited in the statement, only 5.4% of Black people have been vaccinated for the virus in comparision to 60.4% of non-Hispanic whites, per ABC News. In regards to the troubles experienced by HBCUs, more than 75% of students rely on Pell Grants, while others take out other student loans.
Additionally, many students lack resources for virtual school and remote work as well as funds to get a plane or bus ticket home at the end of the semester.
In an effort to assist both HBCUs and POC communities affected by COVID-19, the NBA All-Stars— alongside sponsors AT&T, Kia, State Farm, Mountain Dew and Taco Bell — have committed $3 million to assist students and healthcare institutions that have been working hard to resolve many of the unprecedented challenges that arose in the past year. Proceeds will be sent to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) — which supports 47 HBCUs — the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) — which provides help to 37 member schools — the Direct Relief and the Fund for Health Equity.
“What happened in 2020, it put a spotlight on some of the inequities that exist more specifically within the African-American community,” said Dr. Harry L. Williams, President and CEO of TMCF. “And with the unfortunate incidents with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, this sparked the conscience of this country, it literally woke up and recognized that there are some discrepancies.”
“With that spotlight...we’ve been in a position to address some of those concerns,” he continued. “Our partners have stepped up and said we want to help, we want to be part of the solution.”
The NBA has been taking a stand against racial inequity since the impactful boycotts that followed Jacob Blake’s horrific shooting. Per the statement, the league plans to continue their fight for social justice even after the All-Star games.
All-Star weekend is slated to go down on March 7 in Atlanta, Georgia.