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We Matter: Athletes and Activism


In interviews and essays, high-profile activist athletes explore the intersection of sports and politics.

Forthcoming: 3/6/18

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What people are saying…

“Etan confronts our collective challenges and reminds us that life is not just a game, but demands a constant struggle for justice.”
—Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!


The latest from Akashic’s Edge of Sports imprint.

Featuring interviews by former NBA player Etan Thomas with over fifty athletes, executives, media figures, and more—and interwoven with essays and critiques by Thomas—We Matter shares the personal tales and opinions of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, Steve Kerr,Oscar Robertson, Mark Cuban, Michael Bennett, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Swin Cash, Alonzo Mourning, Chris Webber, Jemele Hill, Anquan Boldin, Jamal Crawford, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, Shannon Sharpe, James Blake, John Carlos, Laila Ali, Michael Eric Dyson, Joakim Noah, Eric Reid, Adam Silver, Soledad O’Brien, John Wall, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Bradley Beal, Tamika Catchings, Curtis Conway, Harry Edwards, Chris Hayes, Craig Hodges, Chamique Holdsclaw, Scoop Jackson, Bomani Jones, Shaun King, Jimmy King, Ted Leonsis, Thabo Sefolosha, Ilyasah Shabazz, Torrey Smith, Kenny Smith, Michael Smith, David West, Michael Wilbon, Jahvaris Fulton (brother of Trayvon Martin), Emerald Snipes (daughter of Eric Garner), Allysza Castile (sister of Philando Castile), Valerie Castile (mother of Philando Castile), and Dr. Tiffany Crutcher (sister of Terence Crutcher).

This volume will be an inspiration for many different people: sports junkies; young readers who need words of encouragement from their favorite athletes; parents seeking positive messages for their children; activists who want to hear athletes using their voices to address social justice; and schools that need motivational material for their students.

“It couldn’t have happened without [athletes] . . . People around the world know my brother’s name. I don’t know if a lot of people know this, but in the beginning, the news outlets didn’t want to run the story.”
—Jahvaris Fulton (brother of Trayvon Martin)

“On Facebook someone had reposted the video [of various NBA players wearing I Can’t Breathe shirts] . . . and I thought it was Photoshopped. I didn’t think it was real . . . It was really overwhelming because I felt that my voice is being heard.”
—Emerald Snipes (daughter of Eric Garner)

“When we saw footage of Russell Westbrook speaking out after my brother’s death, and telling the world how wrong it was and that they were going to do whatever our family needs, and that they were going to be there for us, it really touched my family. It meant so much to my father . . .”
—Dr. Tiffany Crutcher (sister of Terence Crutcher)

“It really touched my heart. If I could personally meet each and every one of the WNBA players, I would give them all a hug and tell them individually, ‘Thank you for speaking out and supporting my brother, it was just so brave.’ Some people in the spotlight are afraid to speak out, but they weren’t at all. They used their voices and their outlet and told the entire world that what happened to my brother and to Alton Sterling was wrong . . . I can’t thank them enough.”
—Allysza Castile (sister of Philando Castile)

Included in Publishers Weekly’s Notable African American Titles, 2017-2018.

Included in Publishers Weekly’s African-American Interest Adult Titles, 2017-2018.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Published: 3/6/18
  • IBSN: 9781617755910
  • e-IBSN: 9781617756122
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617755941


ETAN THOMAS, a former eleven-year NBA player, was born in Harlem and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has published three books: a collection of poems titled More Than an Athlete, the memoir Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge, and Voices of the Future, a collection of poems and essays by young writers from around the country on topics such as racism, Trayvon Martin, President Obama, gun violence, and AIDS. Thomas was honored for social justice advocacy as the recipient of the 2010 National Basketball Players Association Community Contribution Award, as well as the 2009 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation Legacy Award. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, CNN, and ESPN. He can be frequently seen on MSNBC as a special correspondent and he cohosts a weekly local radio show, The Collision, on WPFW in Washington, DC, about the place where sports and politics collide. We Matter: Athletes and Activism is his latest book.

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