“It’s a continuous movement:” GV Basketball’s Christian Negron talks BLM, NBA activism and the fight for police reform


GVL / Meghan Landgren

Kellen Voss, Print Associate Editor

When a video of Wisconsin man Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by police rekindled national protests, Grand Valley State basketball player Christian Negron was appalled, but not shocked, by the way police officers treated the man trying to de-escalate a fight.

This has been a tough summer for Negron, a Black athlete, not just because he hasn’t had access to a gym or didn’t see his teammates in person for almost five full months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blake is not the only black person to suffer from police brutality this summer, as a video of George Floyd being killed underneath the knee of Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin sparked Black Lives Matter protests all over the country a few months back.

Negron, who participated in a few protests just outside of his hometown of Elgin, Illinois, was happy to be able to further the conversation with GVSU teammates following the death of Floyd.

“When the George Floyd situation first happened, we all had a Zoom meeting with a few GVSU officials,” Negron said. “Obviously, we have a lot of white kids and we have some black kids on our team, and we just wanted to talk it out and see if we can just further the conversation of what’s going on.”

You could hear the pain in Negron’s voice as he explained how important it is to have these difficult conversations with teammates and coaches alike.

“People like myself and (senior teammate Steven Lloyd) thought it was important to try and elaborate on what’s been going on,” Negron said. “I’m glad that the conversations are being had but I just haven’t seen much reform yet. And that’s the most frustrating part.”

Negron continued to stress that some real change needs to happen in the country when it comes to both how police officers have trained and holding officers accountable.

“I don’t know if people are waiting to hear something that’s gonna change their opinion when it’s pretty much been the same conversation for 400 years,” Negron said. “It’s blatantly obvious that Black people are oppressed in this country, and I do think the conversations need to continue to be had. It’s always important to continue to educate people on these issues, but I’m confused as to why not enough real legislation has been changed already.”

The senior center has hated to see that the death of innocent Black men has somewhat become a political issue in this country, and has gained some solace in talking about that hate with members of GVSU Basketball’s coaching staff.

“I’m not overly political myself, but I do have really strong opinions about social justice, human rights and things of that nature,” Negron said. “It’s almost like the way it works today, if you pick a side you have to be the extreme of that side too. I’ve actually talked to Coach Wesley about this, and oftentimes I feel like the extremes are often the loud minority of the argument. It’s unfortunate, and stuff like that shouldn’t be politicized, but I guess that’s just our country.”

Negron is proud of the activism he has seen in the NBA, from players like Chris Paul dedicating his whole post-game interview to Jacob Blake to the Milwaukee Bucks boycotting Game Five of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals match-up to protest police brutality, with the rest of the league following suit shortly after.

“I’ve always been a fan of people who have a message like that and stick to it, especially when they have a platform like that,” Negron said. “They’ve made their message really strong. The NBA obviously has a huge platform, and they understand that, and they use it for good. I’m really supportive of it.”

Negron hopes that there are changes made in the legislation. But he also hopes that people don’t view these incidents as an anomaly in the system, and continue to fight for change for Black people all over this country.

“A lot of times, things like this happen, and then some people think it’s a trend,” Negron said. “Black Lives Matter is not a trend, it’s a continuous movement. This has been, and will be, a constant moving thing until change happens.”