Calls for social justice runs in NBA star’s family.

By Michael Kinney

When the NBA put a pause on its season in early March due to the spread of COVID-19, Trae Young decided to come home. The Atlanta Hawks All-Star packed up a few bags and headed back to his hometown of Norman, which is also where he started at the University of Oklahoma.

Young didn’t know how much time he was going to be back home, but it gave him an opportunity to catch up with friends and family. That included his younger sister Caitlyn Young, who is currently a 20-year-old sophomore at TCU.

Anyone who has been around the pair for any significant amount of time can automatically tell they have polar opposite personalities. In fact, it would be fair to say Caitlyn is the fire to Trae’s ice.

Those differences showed themselves this week as they both grappled, like most Americans, with how to respond to the events surround the death of George Floyd at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis on May 25.

“It’s been a lot of different things. For me, I’ve seen all the riots and the looting and people are saying they want peaceful protests,” Trae Young said. “And for me, I’m in the middle. I mean, I see both sides. I see protesting peacefully is a good way to go about it. But also, I see the anger in these people, in our people. We’ve been protesting peacefully for years and it hasn’t changed.”

While her older brother was more diplomatic, Caitlyn Young didn’t mince words. As an active member in the Black Lives Matter movement, she was a little more direct in her anger over the situation her country finds itself in.

“Anger is the number one feeling that I’ve felt all week,” Caitlyn Young said.  “And any type of happiness or joy that I do experience for a split second, I let that subside quickly because I don’t think for me personally, there hasn’t been any room or time or space for that. In my opinion, in regard to the protests, there is no right or wrong way to go about it. People are angry. There hasn’t been any change. It’s not like what happened last week to George Floyd is the first time it’s happened.”

It is evident by their responses that the two siblings are at different points in their lives.

As a major in strategic communications, Caitlyn is the firebrand of the family who has seemingly never had a problem speaking her mind fully on subjects she is passionate about. That includes the fault line that has been built between the police and the black community.

“Just in quarantine, there’s been multiple shootings, multiple killings of black people and people are angry,” Caitlyn Young said. “So there is no way to go about saying these protests have been too violent, too peaceful. I generally think however black people are choosing to respond right now is the right way to respond.”

Photo Credit: Michael Kinney/Michael Kinney Media Above, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and his sister, Caitlyn Young, attend social justice rally in their hometown of Norman on June 1.

For Trae, who is not only the face of the Atlanta Hawks, but has also become one of the rising stars in the NBA since he was drafted No. 5 overall in 2018.

At the age of 21, it seems Trae Young is still learning how to represent himself, his team and Atlanta, which saw his teammates leading peaceful protest marches and individuals destroying property and looting.

“It was sad and it was also something I understand,” Trae Young said. “I’m not there right now, but I’m talking to people in Atlanta. I know Jaylen Brown. I know Justin Anderson who was in the walk, in the protest, and it’s crazy what’s going on in Atlanta. But these people want change and we want to change. I feel like that’s the way that they’re thinking and I’m behind them.

So I see the reason why the aggressive protest and the looting and the rioting have been this way this past week. But I feel at the same time, I think there’s a lot of different ways to go about it. And honestly, I’m in the middle of how it is.”

The entire Young family took part in a variety of events during the weekend. That included the Black Lives Matter march in Oklahoma City on Sunday.

While the march was an amazing experience for them, they could not say the same about the peaceful protest rally of racial injustice that was held in Norman on Monday afternoon.

Even though her brother was one of the featured speakers, Caitlyn Young, who is also a double minor in Comparative Race Relations and Ethnic Studies and Religion, found very few positives about the event.

“Today’s event did nothing for me. I think it was something that is to be expected from the city of Norman,” Caitlyn Young said. “I feel like it’s a lot of white people being comfortable, applauding black people for being very patient and calm in their anger about things. I think a lot of black people were monitoring themselves in what they were saying today to make the white people here feel comfortable. And I don’t think that’s productive. I don’t think it’s making any systemic change and that’s what’s necessary now.”

Trae Young has come to not only expect his sister’s full-throated honesty, he respects it and counts on it.

“One thing about Caitlyn, she’s going to keep it real. She’s not going to bullshit you,” Trae Young said. “And that’s something that makes her who she is and makes our family who we are.  I’ll keep it real with her. She keeps it real with me. That’s how it is.”

While they do not always agree, Trae and Caitlyn can always discuss anything with each other with honesty and without fear. That is a trait that is much needed these days. “It’s very comfortable for us. Nobody holds back. You’re going to say your opinion,” Caitlyn said. “You’re going to be truthful about it. No one’s scared to step on each other’s toes. I think our family does a pretty good job of even when tensions and emotions are high, there’s still respect for at least the basics of each other’s opinions. And the way that we go about developing our opinions. We put a lot of thought and logic behind it so that helps foster a lot of respect.”

Michael Kinney Media

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