My Voice

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“First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialist
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me”

– First They Came, a poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller

Adonal-Foyle-My-Voice

I am an immigrant from the Caribbean.

When I was 15 years old, I was adopted by two college professors and immigrated to the United States from my native island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the sole purpose of getting a quality education. Not only did I achieve that with a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University, I also got to play 13 years in the NBA. And during my post-playing career, I used some of that knowledge and wisdom to continue my passions. I pursued a master’s degree, wrote two books and I remain involved with the game, working in TV and radio.

This year, I celebrate my 10-year anniversary of becoming an American citizen. One of the things I loved about coming to America was the opportunities it gave me, and how I was able to pay that forward. I became the first person in my family to go to college and I obtained the necessary resources to provide some of those same opportunities for my family.

I loved my college experience because the university system fundamentally acts as an incubation system that uses education to change the dynamics between people from all over the world. At Colgate, I became friends with students from India, Sri Lanka, parts of Africa and Asia, and others.

Diversity is extremely important to the college experience. The knowledge that I obtained from my many groups of friends, combined with the first-class education I received at Colgate, has helped me transform not only my life, but also that of my entire family. I helped my sister pursue her dream of becoming a culinary chef. My brother is now a software engineer. None of this would be made possible had I not come to America for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

And I hadn’t even begun speaking about the NBA yet.

The NBA is a global institution where nearly one-fourth of its active players are from foreign countries – several of them of Muslim faith. So when President Donald Trump signed an executive order to bar any citizen from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days, and suspend the admission of all refugees for 120 days, is truly frightening on many levels. First off, this is not the America I have grown to love when I finally became a citizen 10 years ago. This is not the country I have come to understand, and this is not the American I recognize constitutionally for what it stands for.

Second, we all know about the tremendous sacrifices contributions that immigrants have made (and continue to make) for this country to make it a place we are truly proud of. For the love of God, we are founded as a nation of immigrants. Don’t forget that “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” is encrypted on the Statue of Liberty, the welcoming mother of the United State and a symbol for welcoming all immigrants.

As a part of the NBA family, I’ve been proud to hear all the players and coaches taking a stand against the President’s Executive Order. And I am deeply touched as a person who immigrated to this country nearly 25 years ago. As of right now, this decision is affecting Muslims, but similar to the poem at the top of this story, who knows what decisions could be made that will affect others.

This is no longer about players sticking to sports, and actors sticking to movies. Athletes represent the microcosm of our society. We pay taxes, we raise our children here and some of us have families from other countries. This affects all of us. And it affects us just as much as it affects anyone else who is outraged by this decision. Just because we play sports does not make us forfeit our rights as people who simply love this country. We are here just like anyone else. No matter what you do in society, whether you are a professional athlete, an actor, a tech worker or a garbage man, you do not surrender your rights because of what you do for a living.

We are all part of this country – a country that we still love – and we all have a voice. And this is my voice, speaking on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.

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