Frank Franklin II/Associated Press
After the Mets’ 5-4 win, Smith explained why he knelt and also provided an emotional and powerful response when asked what the “most difficult part” has been for him in recent months in the wake of numerous killings of Black people by police.
“Just with everything that’s going on in the world, I just decided to take a little notice, and for the world to take a step back and really just see what’s going on. That’s why I chose tonight,” Smith said regarding his protest, per Ryan Morik of SNY.tv. “I felt like tonight was the perfect night, especially with other teams canceling their games, especially looking at the NBA. They canceled all their games today, so I just wanted to make a stand like that and show my support.”
The Milwaukee Bucks decided against taking the court for Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday days after police shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday.
The four teams in the NBA’s two other scheduled playoff games followed suit, and the same went for the WNBA’s regular-season slate, most of the MLS’ matches and some teams and players on the MLB side.
The Mets and Marlins played on, but Smith made his voice heard Wednesday.
The 25-year-old stressed the need and importance for people to volunteer their time for social justice amid speaking about the needs of Black children today.
“Money is just material things,“ Smith said, per the Associated Press’ Jake Seiner.
“I didn’t grow up with money,” he noted, also adding that it “doesn’t mean nothing to me.”
“If you can give your time, that’s the thing that matters. That’s why I feel so emotional about it, because people give their money, they leave. Can’t do that. You have to be there for the children that are coming up after,” Smith said.
Smith works with BaseballGenerations, a 501(c)3 non-profit that describes itself as an outlet that “provides expert-level baseball instruction, mentorship, life skills training and youth development in a way that is completely accessible to South LA youth.”
Smith, who grew up in Major League Baseball’s RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program and Major League Baseball Youth Academy, is a Los Angeles native. He has been in the big leagues for parts of four seasons and is hitting a career-high .315 with six home runs and 22 RBI this year.