Jaylen Brown on why ‘reform’ is not the right word for social change: ‘We need to find a new word’

"I think that "recreate", "dismantle" and things like that are words we should maybe use.

Jaylen Brown
On Wednesday, Jaylen Brown discussed police reform and the importance of language when it comes to social activism. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

When it comes to social justice, Jaylen Brown has always spoken up. Now, he wants you to chose your words carefully.

During a press conference on Wednesday, the Celtics forward was informed of the news that the City of Louisville reached a $12 million settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman from Louisville who was killed inside her apartment by police in March.

Brown took the time to discuss the importance of language when it comes to discussing police reform, urging the use of words like “dismantle” rather than reform.

“Breonna Taylor’s situation represents not just her and her family, but other people who have fell victim to the system that has been orchestrated to keep Black and Brown people oppressed,” said Brown. “That is a great step for Breonna Taylor and her family, but it’s also more of a thing that needs to be changed. Reform is a word that we use a lot and we want to constantly see reform but, we’ve been saying that for a long time to be honest, for years.


“If I wanted to reform my house I might upgrade my kitchen, I might change my garage, I might even do something outside, but it doesn’t change, like, the house is still the same,” Brown added. “So I think we need to start using different words other than reform because reform is not the right energy I think that we are trying to (convey). I think that ‘recreate,’ ‘dismantle’ and things like that are words we should maybe use. It’s obvious that this incrementalism in this system has just been stringing us along. Year after year after year, reform has been a topic of conversation and some of the same things have happened.


“Black people are still being killed in their houses, in their backyards, outside of places they spend time at, and reform is not the word. So we need to find a new word.”


Brown went on the explain why it’s important for him, and other NBA players, to demand justice for Taylor. The Celtics have done just that, from Marcus Smart answering “Justice for Breonna Taylor”  to every question during a press conference in July, to Jayson Tatum wearing a shirt that read “If you’re reading this Breonna Taylor’s murders are still free” on Tuesday before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. Last week, the team unveiled a $25 million plan to fight racial injustice.


“We have moms, we have sisters, nieces, aunties, and just like men of color have experienced traumatic instances, so have women,” Brown said. “So that is an example of things that have happened to women in our country, so we wanted to stand alongside them, but also make it so that it’s not just us. I think that the future is female, so it’s important to show our sisters that we care and that’s why it’s been important, I feel like, for NBA players to continue to show.”

With that, Brown added that some of the players  even got the opportunity to speak to Taylor’s mother, via Zoom, before heading to the Orlando Bubble for the start of the season.


“The strength that she had during that phone call, it definitely spoke to me. She didn’t cry during that call, she didn’t even complain. She just, in a sense, was happy that somebody cared that something happened to her little girl and it’s sad because everybody should care. It shouldn’t be something that certain people shouldn’t, and certain people because it’s political — I mean at the end of the day, somebody lost they life who didn’t deserve to lose they life. That’s what it comes down to. It’s not even [just] NBA thing. It shouldn’t be. You should care too.”

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