Recent events have focused everyone's attention on the racial inequality and official mistreatment and violence that African-Americans in the United States face every day. This issue has plagued our country since its inception and is the original sin of the United States. Racial discrimination and the threat of violence force black Americans to live in fear. They suffer fear and pain caused by police officers, government officials, and the criminal justice system that are all supposed to serve and protect them. The videos have again made it impossible to ignore the problem, but make no mistake – it has always been and continues to be an omnipresent problem for black people in this country.
What people have seen and heard in the past few days and the conduct that has been revealed has shocked some, caused others to start to understand and speak out for the first time in their lives, and has pushed others to or beyond their breaking points. The only question is whether we are finally going to do something about these acts of senseless criminal violence and loss that keep happening.
Over the past many years, athletes have often been identified as catalysts to help society understand the outrage of racism and the need for societal change. Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Wilma Rudolph, Althea Gibson, Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, and so many other athletes have helped some people see past the color of skin to understand that all men and women really are created equal. Perversely, the success of these athletes has also been used to support false claims that racial discrimination has been addressed or eliminated.
Today we have young African-American USMNT players living abroad whose families tell them they are safer living outside the United States because of what happens to so many young African-American men at the hands of the police in this country. Their teammates want to reassure them, but cannot honestly tell them that is not true.
There have been protests about these issues for more than fifty years. Some people are saying the right things, some Confederate monuments are coming down, but the fundamental change that has to happen has not yet occurred. Federal, state, and local government officials continue to actively oppose reforms that would guarantee black Americans fair and equal treatment or punish those responsible for racially-motivated violence and other misconduct.
No child should have to be taught that they must be prepared to face discrimination, exclusion, and even violence.
No child should fear that the color of their skin will act as permission for individuals in authority to treat them as less than others in any way.
No child should have to be taught that they need to act docile and submissive when they encounter police officers if they do not want to be wrongfully detained, arrested, injured, or killed.
No child should fear that the color of their skin will be evidence they have done something wrong or will give individuals in authority permission to mistreat them.
The entire criminal justice system has to be reformed. African-Americans should not be subjected to more traffic stops, more arrests, more criminal charges, a greater conviction rate, more convictions when innocent, or more severe penalties. Systemic racism and efforts to preserve white supremacy need to be addressed and eliminated.
Those of you who did not understand or dismissed what Tommie Smith and John Carlos were saying in 1968 or did not understand or opposed what Colin Kaepernick was saying in 2016 need to step back and rethink what you believed and what you said at those times. We all need to take responsibility for the fact that our country did not take the actions that were necessary in the past when police killed unarmed black men. Everyone makes mistakes. "What is done cannot be undone, but at least one can keep it from happening again." We failed George Floyd and his family and let it happen again. Every day we fail to change the systems that destroy lives, we all fail black people in this country.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH ✊🏾✊🏾— Weston McKennie (@WMckennie) June 3, 2020
The time is NOW!! Not just for justice or change, but a SOLUTION!!! It has been going on way too long. This has been overlooked and belittled way too often! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! pic.twitter.com/IqM18XjTga
A couple days after George Floyd’s death, my grandfather texted me and told me he’s glad that I am not living in the U.S. right now because he would fear for my life as a young black man. As days have passed, this text from my grandfather has not been able to leave my mind.— DeAndre Yedlin (@yedlinny) June 2, 2020