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Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins finally got his vaccine shot. Not because it was the right thing to do to protect his friends, family, teammates, the NBA staff, fans, neighbors, or the Black community. But because he’s concerned about generational wealth. “It came down to get the vaccination or don't play basketball. I'm 26. I have two kids. I want more kids. I'm trying to do something that will generate as much money as I can for my kids and my future kids, trying to make generational wealth.”
He's not wrong in being concerned about generational wealth because the U.S. has historically made it more difficult for Black families to accrue wealth that they can pass along to other generations to give them some of the advantages that white people have. One of the most famous cases is when California used eminent domain in 1924 to seize Bruce’s Beach, a popular destination for Black families not welcome at other beaches. Recent reports concluded that the land was taken simply because neighbors complained about having Black people on the beach. This month, California returned the property, now worth about $70 million, to the descendants of former owners Willa and Charles Bruce. Imagine how different the lives of their descendants might have been, all the missed opportunities, had the land remained in the familyWhere Wiggins is wrong is in prioritizing his family’s generational wealth, which at his salary of about $29.54 million a year, is in no real danger. That excuse doesn’t really hold up. Especially when he’s clearly choosing money for him and his family over the health and lives of other families not as fortunate as him.
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Instead of stepping up to encourage those in the Black community who may be taking their vaccine hesitancy cue from him to get the vaccine and save their lives, he issues vague statements that have no meaning but may have seriously damaging impact: “I guess you don't own your body. That's what it comes down to. If you want to work in society today, then I guess they made the rules of what goes in your body and what you do. Hopefully, there's a lot of people out there that are stronger than me and keep fighting, stand for what they believe, and hopefully, it works out for them…Hopefully, it works out in the long run and in 10 years I'm still healthy.”
Clearly, he’s afraid that the vaccine will have some long-term consequences, even though there is no evidence of it and plenty of experts who don’t believe that is a serious danger. You know who are struggling right now with long-term health problems? People who got COVID-19. The virus can damage the lungs, heart, and brain, increasing the risk of long-term health problems that can last for years.
As I’ve asked before, what specific right is he fighting for? The right to do whatever you want with your body doesn’t exist in pretty much any civilized society because we recognize that those who behave recklessly and irresponsibly can harm others. You do own your body—unless a deadly virus turns that body into a plague delivery system that can kill hundreds of thousands. Today, while Andrew Wiggins was gathering his generational wealth, 2,036 people died of COVID-19 and 71,905 new cases were confirmed. Of these deaths and new cases, 97 percent of them were unvaccinated. Tomorrow and the day after and the day after, more will die and others will face long-term health problems. He could help prevent that. He chose to use his body not to.