'Here to talk': A's Kemp launches new campaign

June 17th, 2020

OAKLAND -- Many athletes have used the power of their platform on social media to speak out against racial injustice. did that and took it a step further.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis on May 25 left Kemp with a feeling of unease that was tough to shake. After about a week of going through emotions that ranged from anger to gloom, the A's second baseman took to social media and encouraged people who want to be more informed about the Black Lives Matter movement or are just looking to talk.

“I was just depressed after the George Floyd murder. I didn’t get out of bed until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Just down in the dumps,” Kemp told MLB.com. “After I picked myself back up, I put that out there and said, ‘Hey, I’m here to talk to people.’ I wanted to get some open dialogue and communicate. So far, I’ve been very happy with the feedback.”

Kemp recently shared a personal experience of how getting pulled over as a 17-year-old in Tennessee for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign led to additional police being called and, eventually, a request to conduct a full search of his vehicle. The post sparked plenty of discussion on social media, with Kemp taking time to respond to as many people as he could.

“It was easy for me to do. I literally was sitting on the kitchen island in my house when I decided to post it,” Kemp said. "You never know what kind of responses you’re going to get. It blew up. My wife and I were on our way to visit her family, and I was in the car responding to people.”

As of Tuesday, the influx of people looking to engage in insightful conversations with Kemp continues. He remains happy to oblige, even if it can be taxing at times. These conversations along with the unity he's seen in peaceful protests around the country are what give him optimism for the future.

“It’s exhausting, and that’s a good thing,” Kemp said. “It has been good to get things out in the open. A lot of energy goes into that. I literally just had my hands in my knees and was exhausted.”

Kemp is hopeful the positive conversations will help create the “+1 effect,” which he describes as a process in which one person can change another one’s perspective and hope they in turn change another to slowly turn the gears of the systemic change needed right now.

Kemp also unveiled “THE +1 EFFECT” campaign on Tuesday afternoon, teaming with BreakingT to produce a T-shirt with the campaign logo that will see part of the proceeds go to Campaign Zero, an organization dedicated to decreasing police violence with its #8cantwait initiative.

Despite the baseball shutdown, Kemp continues to remain busy with his efforts. This latest campaign comes just over a month after he helped raise COVID-19 relief funds for several charities in the Bay Area, Nashville and Houston with special bobblehead giveaways over an week in May.

"Everything kind of fell into place since [BreakingT was] already donating to Campaign Zero for the month of June, and I just wanted to keep the momentum going," Kemp said. "I think now just being where I’m at in my life, I think it’s important to use this voice I have. You have to try to touch as many lives as you can. I think that’s the biggest thing.”