The traveling bus was created by two basketball players who said they want to “dunk on racism.”
When the Republican National Convention made its brief stop in Charlotte, hundreds from both sides of the political spectrum gathered to make their voices heard.
As Cardinal & Pine reported, protestors, counter protestors, and police clashed in downtown Charlotte. And daily demonstrations by other organized Charlotte organizations will continue through the RNC.
One notable demonstration rode into Charlotte Monday on a big, yellow school bus. The bus, decorated with basketball hoops, was painted with the messages “Black Lives Matter” and “Vote.” It also included the names of Black people killed during altercations with police. The mission: Spread love through basketball.
“It just organically began as a dream,” said Ansom. “My team and I travel all over the world playing basketball and the concept built over 10 years until a friend of mine really challenged me to bring it to life.”
A GoFundMe campaign was created and the Hoop Bus was born, decked out with basketball posters and hardwood floors inside.
As the bus became a fixture in Venice Beach, Ansom decided that in order for it to be a vehicle of change, he had to take the Hoop Bus on tour.
“We decided to dedicate the bus to the (Black Lives Matter) movement,” said Ansom. “We’ve joined in over 50 protests across California and the nation to show people that we’re united in this movement.”
The Hoop Bus packs a diverse organization of 30 members that includes artists, activists, medics, DJs, photographers, videographers, volunteers, and viral amateur basketball players like Will Hartzell. All 30 travel either on the bus, which is equipped with bunk beds, or in an accompanying van or in their own cars. After their stop in Charlotte Monday, the crew stopped in Raleigh Tuesday to host a basketball event for kids and give away free laptops.
Having had a day to reflect, bus driver and producer Joey Greenstein spoke to Cardinal & Pine about how the group purposefully had conversations with North Carolinians they didn’t agree with at the RNC.
“Deplorable Pride was one of the groups we met up with,” said Greenstein. “There was a gay man who was very adamant about Trump being the most pro-gay president that we have. It was hard for me not to contradict him immediately, but I wanted to hear what he had to say.”
Greenstein says the organization’s goal is to make people feel heard and to understand where people are coming from so that they can better assess the mission that they’re on.
While the group was open to having conversations with Trump supporters, they were also willing to attach a Trump balloon to the hoop on the front of their bus and dunk on it. Ansom told the Charlotte Agenda: “We hoop for justice. We dunk on racism.”
Niyen King, a medic from Los Angeles, marched on the frontline with Charlotte protestors and says she understands the tension. “Everyone’s just trying to survive,” said King. “Being a non-black ally, I think my job is to try to appeal to the other side, make them understand why this is important.”
Every Hoop Bus passenger understands the risk involved in driving a polarizing statement across political lines, but Greenstein says the message is too important to keep under wraps.
“You have to take some risks to get to a place you want to be and you have to be willing to stand up for what you believe in,” said Greenstein. “And sometimes that means standing alone.”
The Hoop Bus will make Washington, DC, its final stop as the group hopes to make a statement at the White House.