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  • VAUGHT: Brooks, team working on stand on social injustice

    By LARRY VAUGHT

    Kentucky basketball player Keion Brooks Jr. certainly paid attention to what the UK football team did Thursday when it left practice to protest social injustice in hopes of drawing attention to police shootings of black people and more.

    “What they did was take a stand,” Brooks Jr. said during a Zoom media conference. “That’s what you start with is taking a stand. After that you put in a plan of action. Once you get their attention you have to follow that with something. I really like what the football did and can’t wait to see what they do next.”

    Brooks, a sophomore, said the basketball team has had discussions about things it might want to do to “let people know we are not going to stand for social injustices” and to let others know they stand with them.

    “We have things we are working on and when they get up and going we will be excited to let people see where we are going,” Brooks said.

    Brooks said he didn’t think college athletes voices were being hear as much as they should be considering the athletes are the ones “sacrificing” to play games and represents universities and their fans.

    “It’s more about player empowerment. You have a voice and platform and a right to use it,” he said.

    He recently cut his hair — he had “long twists” over his face — and said before he did he had a startling revelation.

    “I am a black male and feel at times like we are almost being hunted,” he said. “It hit me when it was time to cut my hair. I was holding my phone and saw the reflection of myself and thought I kind of looked like George Floyd (the man killed by police in Minneapolis) and it scared me. It made me realize it could have been me, my brother, one of my teammates. It just made me want to do more.”

    Brooks said he understood he was in a “protected” place in Lexington thanks to being a UK basketball player.

    “I am not as exposed to going out places where I might be in a situation where heinous crimes happen,” he said. “I have an older brother, two younger brothers, a father. It scares me at any time something like that (getting shot by police) could happen to them or me.

    “If I was to leave outside this bubble and not be recognized as Keion Brooks the UK basketball player, there might be an officer waiting to make an example of me just because he had a bad day or something. So I have been just trying keep a level head just so I can help educate others around me.”

    Brooks got asked about a group of African-American professors at UK wanting the name of Rupp Arena changed because of claims former UK coach Adolph Rupp was a racist.

    Give him credit for admitting he had not educated himself on the whole situation but said from what he knew he would like to see the name changed, something that obviously most UK fans do not want to see happen.

    “I’d like to see a name change because (of) what his name is and what that’s connected to and what it represents,” Brooks said. “That’s really all I can say but I would like to see the name changed.”