Toronto Raptors Norman Powell Selling T-Shirts With Proceeds Going To Black Lives Matter Causes

By Aaron Brophy 8/17/20 |

The Toronto Raptors'
Toronto Raptors basketball player Norman Powell has released three t-shirts through his Understand The Grind clothing line to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

Powell, who's been with the world champion Raptors since 2015, says proceeds from sales of the clothing will be split between the Black Youth Helpline in Canada and Campaign Zero in the United States.

Launched in Manitoba in 1992, the Black Youth Helpline's mission is the "prevention of social, psychological breakdown in communities through a focus on education, health and community development." In addition to helpline support, the organization also takes part in stay-in-school initiatives, helps provide family and parent supports and helps users access further support services. The helpline expanded to Ontario in 2003 and is now a nationwide service.

Campaign Zero is an advocacy organization with the goal of ending police-caused killings in America. The organization works with local, state, and federal lawmakers "to take immediate action to adopt data-driven policy solutions to end this violence and hold police accountable." Some of the policies Campaign Zero are working towards include the end of "for-profit" policing, police body cameras, better police training, independent community oversight and limits to police use of force.

The Understand The Grind tees all have BLM-related texts on them. One features a quote from late poet and social critic James Baldwin, another says "Understand Black Lives Matter" and the third asks "Am I Next?" The shirts retail between $24.99-$29.99.

Powell said that the proceeds from July 2020 sales of Understand The Grind were split between Toronto-based Black Women In Motion and Color Of Change in the U.S.

Powell is hardly the only player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) who has been aggressively supporting a range of race and equality-related causes of late. Each member of the Raptors roster has a variation of a socially-minded slogan on their jerseys above their nameplates. Powell and team stars Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam have the words "Black Lives Matter" on their jerseys, while Kyle Lowry has "Education Reform" and Marc Gasol has the word "Justice." Additionally, the Raptors team buses have been repainted to say "Black Lives Matter" on them.

Support for the Black Lives Matter movement is strong and formalized across the league. The NBA, which is playing the remainder of its current season in a COVID-19 "bubble" at Walt Disney World in Florida, had the Black Lives Matter logo painted across the basketball court when the league started playing games in the bubble on July 30.

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