We can’t just sweep race relations under the rug anymore. It has to be addressed on a individual level, local level, and national level. After the past week in which we watched a black man killed by a corrupt cop in broad daylight this type of systematic racism has to stop. It is disgusting, heartbreaking, and painful to watch.
What can the sports world do to start the conversation on how to solve this problem?
First of all, athletes have been throwing their opinions out there on the George Floyd killing. It can not end there though. Everybody has an opinion, but it’s what you personally do to improve race relations. Even college coaches and athletes can get involved with building better relationships with the police and people of color in their cities and towns.
Here are just a few things that the athletes, coaches, and you can do to get the words turned into actions.
Are you going to get involved with the local law enforcement to find a way that your community and the police can build a better relationship?
Will you get involved with the police at a local Boy’s and Girl’s Club, YMCA, or school to build up race relations with the youth in your area?
When you see social injustice you speak up about it. Make your voice heard.
Having more white people admit that they have an inherit white privilege to their existence?
White privilege exits. I know that some people are still in denial about it, but it does exist. I have lived through some personal white privilege moments. Having friends that are Hispanic and African-American I have heard many stories of them being questioned, pulled over, or being harassed by police at different points in their life. These friends of mine are solid citizens, educated, career minded, family people, and citizens of faith. My friends have also had to communicate to their children about how to behave around the police. I can guarantee that my friends worry about their kids when it comes to interaction with the police.
Having that conversation with my kids is something that I have not had to have. That is white privilege.
My best friend since I have lived in Arizona is African-American and we have had a ton of talks about race and interactions with the police. He is a former Colorado safety and has told me about being pulled over for nothing. Literally he was driving down the street to get some lunch or running an errand, had his window down, and the police officer pulls a U-turn to pull my friend over and ask him random questions. The policeman let him go, but to be pulled over for absolutely nothing is unacceptable. I have heard his stories about his time in Boulder. He loves Boulder, but some things he has told me would make your skin crawl.
My experiences with the police have been few and far between. One of those interactions was speeding for me. I was going to pick up this same friend for lunch. I was speeding, technically criminally speeding. My car was clocked at 90mph in a 65 speed zone. A Arizona State Policeman pulled me over. As the cop was checking my license I was looking for my insurance card. The cop came back and saw my media credentials laid out on my passenger seat and started talking college football with me. He took my insurance card, checked it over, and came back to tell me to have a good day. I left with no ticket.
Right then and there I knew that if I was a person of color I would have been ticketed at the very least. White privilege was front and center for me.
I call my Colorado Buffalo friend and tell him about the experience.
“My black butt would already be down at the police station, car impounded, and having to worry about the impending court date.” he said.
He’s right. The white community has to become more involved with this to help affect change. For years white people have seen these police beatings happen, seen the video tape, but paid only lip service to it for the most part.
Lip service is not good anymore. It’s time to put action behind the words.
On Monday afternoon the Pac-12 Conference and AD’s put out a statement on the George Floyd killing and the resulting protests.
I believe the Pac-12 Conference will jump into the deep end of the pool and become proactive in the African-American community. We all should. As the Pac-12 states in their release, “The injustice before us is not just a problem African-Americans, nor a problem just facing minorities. It is an American injustice, one that we all must own and all must address head on if we wish to create a more humane, more caring, and more empathetic society...”
I have seen press releases from Jonathan Smith of Oregon State and Chip Kelly of UCLA throwing their thoughts out there on what they can do to help their football players in their respective programs. Seeing these coaches starting to speak out and offer some helpful ways in which they can change the way they think or how they run their program is a good first step.
In the end, as a society we need to call for criminal justice reform, police reform, and we need to realize that when we call ourselves the United States of America we can not do that when a segment of our society is still being bullied by the police. We need to be united in our disgust of what is happening to our friends of color. Jumping outside of our comfort zone and doing something for our friends of color is going to be the thing that can lead us out of the systemic racism that has been around for 400 years.