The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, is not about racism but about class warfare and how poor people are not advancing in America, says basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
"The middle class has to join the poor and whites have to join African-Americans in mass demonstrations, in ousting corrupt politicians, in boycotting exploitative businesses, in passing legislation that promotes economic equality and opportunity, and in punishing those who gamble with our financial future," Abdul-Jabbar says in an op-ed piece for Time magazine.
"Otherwise, all we're going to get is what we got out of Ferguson: a bunch of politicians and celebrities expressing sympathy and outrage," he added.
"If we don't have a specific agenda — a list of exactly what we want to change and how — we will be gathering over and over again beside the dead bodies of our murdered children, parents, and neighbors."
Abdul-Jabbar said the media's focus on race in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer plays into a "racial agenda" that "distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor."
"Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being a criminal," he added. "Ironically, this misperception is true even among the poor."
The retired Basketball Hall of Famer argued that Americans of all groups need to come together — "uniting to face the real foe," which includes "do-nothing politicians, legislators, and others in power" — to demand equal justice for all Americans.
"With each of these shootings/chokehold deaths/stand-your-ground atrocities, police and the judicial system are seen as enforcers of an unjust status quo," Abdul-Jabbar said. "Our anger rises, and riots demanding justice ensue."
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