Russell Wilson, who's been to two Super Bowls and is arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, recently recalled a racist incident he went through right after winning his first championship back in 2014.
During an interview with ESPN, the Seattle Seahawks QB reflected on the Black Lives Matter protests happening across the world and what being Black means to him.
“When you think about the idea of Black Lives Matter, they do matter,” Russell told the sports news outlet.
“The reality is that, me as a Black person, people are getting murdered on the street, people are getting shot down, and the understanding that it’s not like that for every other race. It’s like that in particular for the Black community. I think about my stepson, I think about my daughter, I think about our new baby boy on the way, and it’s staggering to watch these things happen right in front of our faces, so I have a heavy heart right now. Being Black is a real thing in America. It’s a real thing in the sense of the history and the pain, even my own family, personally.”
He continued, "You understand fully -- especially now just turning 31 and having two kids and a third one on the way -- you really understand the significance of what that means. And the fact that my dad even had to tell me that is a problem. And going to the grocery store, the assumption that somebody may accuse you of stealing or something like that is a terrifying thought."
Wilson then opened up about an incident that reminded him that no matter how successful you are as a Black man, you’re still a mark for ignorance. He says he was standing in line for breakfast at a restaurant in California when an older white man said to him, “That’s not for you.”
“And I said, ‘Huh? Excuse me?’ I thought he was joking at first,” he continued. “My back was kind of turned. I had just come off a Super Bowl and everything else, so if somebody is talking to me that way, you think about [a different] circumstance and how people talk to you. In that moment, I really went back to being young and not putting my hands in my pocket and that experience. That was a heavy moment for me right there. I was like, man, this is really still real, and I’m on the West Coast. This is really real right now.”
He added, “That really pained my heart. But in the midst of that, what I understood was — and [what] my dad always taught me was — to not lash back out in that moment because then it becomes something that’s hard to deal with. So I said, ‘Excuse me, sir, but I don’t appreciate you speaking to me that way.’ He just kind of walked off. But in that little glimpse, even though it didn’t turn into something, what if it did? That’s the sad part about this, what we’re talking about.”
Russell Wilson also said it’s "a shame" people aren't being allowed to peacefully protest. He spoke about the need for change and police reform.
"Not every police officer is bad by any means, but the reality is I think there needs to be a process of ... the background checks and checking on these people and constantly -- not just the first time they get hired but also throughout the whole process as they're working as well," he said. "I think there's so much there that needs to be changed."
Read the full ESPN interview here.
(Photo credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
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