Kareem Abdul-Jabaar is no stranger to combating political and racial strife. In his latest address to the current racial climate, the basketball icon penned a powerful op-ed in the Los Angeles Times that empathizes with those protesting the murder of George Floyd

In the piece published on Saturday, Abdul-Jabaar admits that he doesn't like seeing businesses looted or property destroyed. Yet, he believes that these demonstrations are unfairly demonized while similar destructive behavior is glorified. 

"Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts," Kareem wrote before analogizing the existence of Black people in America to that of a burning building. 

"I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn," he continued. "But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer."

Floyd's death in Minnesota sparked the fuse to an spiraling chain of protests. Several American cities—including Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, and Kansas City—have followed suit after Minneapolis by launching similar demonstrations that have lasted for days. Adding to this is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Yet, to Abdul-Jabaar, it is clear that America's biggest ailment isn't COVID-19: 

"So, maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19."

Because of this, Kareem implores people to look at things from the perspective of the oppressed. He explains that these people are battling a deadly illness that is choking them like Officer Derek Chauvin's knee constricted Floyd's airway. For him, the only means of relief is to shine a light on this situation. 

"Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible—even if you’re choking on it—until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air," Kareem wrote. "What I want to see is not a rush to judgment, but a rush to justice."