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We Matter: Athletes and Activism


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

*While supplies last, books ordered through the website will include a bookplate SIGNED by Etan Thomas!

$16.95 $12.71

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

“Thomas interviews athletes, coaches, and sports personalities as he covers topics related to activism from the sporting realm and how it is perceived in America. A necessary read.”
Library Journal, A Best Book of 2018

“In We Matter, Thomas strives to show the influence professional athletes can have when they join the conversation on race, politics and civil rights. Thomas conducted 50 interviews, which included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Laila Ali, Michael Bennett and Eric Reid, among many other athletes, as well as journalists, television personalities and family members of unarmed black men who were shot and killed. Thomas also explored his ties with the Wizards and spoke with John Wall, Bradley Beal and current majority team owner Ted Leonsis.”
Washington Post

Winner of the African American Literary Awards Show’s Best Nonfiction Award for 2018!

“Former NBA player Etan Thomas releases the timely and necessary We Matter: Athletes and Activism, in order to add useful, relevant words to the conversation on athletes and their activism.”
The Root

“In his new book, We Matter: Athletes and Activism, Thomas tirelessly interviews a range of people from NBA icons to the families of crime victims to illustrate the importance of athletes using their voice for more than just sports.”
Athletes Quarterly

“Former Marquette University basketball player and 12-time NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade, along with Basketball Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (who played for the Milwaukee Bucks while he was still known as Lew Alcindor) are among more than 50 athletes, coaches, executives and media personalities featured in a timely new book exploring the intersection of sports and politics.”

“In We Matter, former NBA player and poet Etan Thomas interviews a number of notable athletes, writers, and coaches in order to explore the world of athletes and activism . . . It is fascinating to read the thoughts of these figures that Thomas interviews and is a great primer on the intersection of sports and politics for beginners, while also containing much that will be revealing for those already well versed in these topics.
Fansided, Included in A Black History Month sports reading list

“Thomas has spent his life examining inequities in America particularly as it relates to race and poverty. He’s spoken out against war, helped Oklahoma prisoners write poetry and rallied against police brutality . . . But, Thomas says he’s not alone: that social issues dominate what athletes talk about behind closed doors.”
Tulsa World

“Thomas’ book focuses on the intersection of race and politics in sports. It features interviews with several Basketball Hall of Famers including Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson, countless NBA all-stars and the Suns’ Jamal Crawford. Beyond basketball, the book also addresses the NFL’s collusion case of embattled players Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, as well as discussions with family members of police brutality casualties including Eric Garner, Philando Castile and Terence Crutcher.”
Arizona Republic

“I applaud Etan Thomas’ We Matter because his voice is adding strength and courage to athletes in regard to speaking up and becoming more involved in the issues of social justice. His support is especially important to other professional athletes because they do have a larger platform with the ability to reach huge audiences.”
Culture Honey

“An accessible collection of interviews and essays addressing racial profiling, the power and relevance of athletes’ voices, gender inequality, and mental health stigmas . . . In appealing and intelligent writing, Thomas encourages fans and athletes to share their voices and inspires thoughtful action through this well-timed and significant collection . . . An excellent resource to spark discussions and motivate positive community expression and involvement.”
Library Journal

“A former NBA player and current activist . . . returns with a collection of dozens of interviews on the subject of race in America—all supporting the efforts of athletes to speak out and up . . . Voices of pain, anger, and hope resound through these pages—and through the reader’s heart.”
Kirkus Reviews

“The honest conversations, published in transcript form and often accompanied by black-and-white photos, serve as a primer on recent police violence cases, a history lesson on the first athletes who stood up for racial justice, an examination of the experience of being young and black in the United States, and an insightful look at how it feels to lose a loved one to tragedy, from contributors such as Jemele Hill, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Carmelo Anthony . . . An important read, executed uniquely.”
School Library Journal, STARRED Review

“Thought-provoking and often intensely moving reading.”

“This book should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the voice of the modern athlete.”
Brooklyn Fans

“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.

Listen to interviews with Etan Thomas at The Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC), WAER 88.3 (Syracuse, NY), on the Life of Dad podcast, on Café Mocha Radio, and on the Nation‘s Edge of Sports podcast

Read interviews and features with Etan Thomas at the New York Times, ESPN’s The UndefeatedSyracuse.com, The Ithacan, Street Roots, The Shadow Leagueand The Cornell Daily Sun

Listen to Literary Hub’s Fiction/Non/Fiction podcast’s live episode from a panel at the 2018 Miami Book Fair International featuring Etan Thomas, Steve Almond, and Mark Leibovich.

Read features on Etan Thomas at the Washington City Paper and the Daily Beast.

Watch interviews with Etan Thomas on WUCA DC’s Off Script on 9;Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien; C-SPAN; Democracy Now!; MSNBC’s Politics Nation with Al Sharpton; C-SPAN Washington Journal; C-SPAN Q&A; WNET Thirteen’s MetroFocus; Roland Martin Unfiltered; The Roman ShowTicToc by Bloomberg; MCNBC’s Meet the Press, and at Channel 4 News (UK).

Watch the Undefeated Roundtable featuring Etan Thomas discussing, among other topics, Colin Kaepernick’s possible return to the NFL.

Watch an interview with Howard Bryant moderated by Etan Thomas at After Words (C-SPAN 2 Book TV).

Read an event feature/recap at Fredericksburg.com (Fredericksburg, VA Free-Lance Star).

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 multiple books including: We Matter: Athletes and Activism (voted a top ten best activism book of all time by BookAuthority), More than an Athlete, Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge, and Voices of the Future. Thomas received the 2010 National Basketball Players Association Community Contribution Award as well as the 2009 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation Legacy Award—both honoring his advocacy for social justice. He is a senior writer for BasketballNews.com and a regular contributor to the Guardian and The Undefeated. He can frequently be seen on MSNBC as a special correspondent and cohosts a weekly show with Dave Zirin called, The Collision: Where Sports and Politics Collide. Police Brutality and White Supremacy: The Fight Against American Traditions is his latest book.

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