As news of the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict reached the world of sports and elicited reactions from numerous leagues and players, there was a sense of the importance of the moment — and the long road ahead in the fight for true equality and social justice.
Tru Pettigrew, who was hired in December by the Timberwolves as their vice president of player programs, diversity and inclusion, joined the Daily Delivery podcast on Wednesday to help articulate both of those points.
If you don't see the podcast player, click here to listen.
Here are some of the highlights:
*On conversations Pettigrew was having with players leading up to Tuesday's verdict, which gave him a window into how they were feeling: "Like most other people in the community and across the nation, there was a lot of angst, anticipation — a large range of emotions ... anticipating what this verdict was going to be. I think that speaks volumes to where we are in society, right, in just sitting on the edges of our seats after seeing something so tragic take place over 9 minutes and still wondering if in fact this would result in a conviction. Just helping our players to process those feelings and those emotions and understand how they can leverage their voice and their platforms to be able to impact change. ... Our players I know for certain have been driven to a point where they feel compelled to effect change."
*On whether Pettigrew has been able to process his own feelings given that his role is helping others work through their own emotions: "It's heavy, if I'm being fully transparent. It's traumatizing for all of us, and I'm not immune to that. And so my opportunity and ability to help facilitate ways to process that trauma with others in its own way has been therapeutic to me. ... But it can also be heavy because you are constantly receiving the stresses and angst and weight of how it's impacting and affecting others."
*On whether there is a generational component to players wanting to become more involved in effecting change: "I am your generational brother, by the way. We are both Gen Xers here. So I am not a millennial. But I spent a lot of my career early on helping a lot of organizations understand how to connect with millennials both in the marketplace and in the workplace. In doing that work, I have discovered some generational differences. ... What I have discovered with millennials, is the technology that has been present, being the digital natives that they are ... has created values and behaviors that weren't even possible to exist for people like you and I because the technology that created those values and behaviors wasn't even present. ... We talk about the role that technology has played in their lives as creating this sense of instant gratification, but it's really transcended that and it's created a desire for them to be connected — not just connected technologically, but they want to be connected to their passions and sense of purpose. ... They're very civic-minded, more so than the generations that have come before them, and when they want to hold institutions and organizations accountable for not just what they do but why they do it — and if those organizations are addressing the real issues that are impacting society."
On what comes next: "To continue what we believe is a step in the right direction based on the verdict, and I don't know if the sentiment of our players is so much that it was justice but it's the right direction and accountability ... one of the things we're looking to do is have some conversations with community members and community leaders. Have conversations with law enforcement. Be facilitators and bridge-builders on how to foster healing and unity that is hurting so badly and has experienced so much pain, so much tragedy and so much hurt. ... It's a problem that needs to be resolved, and in some way — not that we have all the answers — but to do all we can with what we have to create resolution. But then also reconciliation. Because we'd be naive to think that if we only resolve the problem but don't reconcile the damaged relationships, we will find ourselves in a situation of having to resolve problems over and over."