Las Vegas Raiders players have been active in their support of the Black Lives Matters movement. Veteran wide receiver Tyrell Williams is no different, and recently talked about the difficulties he faced growing up.
Many players have recently used social media to condemn racism and show their support for racial equality. Others, like Jason Witten, have tried to learn and look for ways to improve interaction with local law enforcement. In the same manner, Williams talked about how he suffered discrimination as a child and as a teenager.
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My Mom is white my Dad is black. I grew up in Turner, Oregon which is 95% white. Early in school I remember learning about slavery and civil rights and kids making jokes and saying crazy stuff about me. The school’s solution was to have my dad come and take me on a walk. In middle school I was told I shouldn’t be alive because my parents should have never been together. In middle school kids were either so excited to read the books on civil rights and segregation because they got to say the N word, or they were turning and staring at me when it was my turn to read. In high school I remember being called the N word during multiple football games. Never basketball or track because you’d be able see and hear who said it. In high school I remember white kids telling me I’m not “actually” black anytime black cultural topics are brought up. For me, I felt racism weekly. Walking out of high-school one day to see KKK flyers on all the windshields of the cars. These were just a few of the thousands of incidents of racism early in my life that stuck out. I had an identity crisis growing up not knowing with who or how to fit in. Fortunately I also had great friends who would stick up and stand for the cause. I want to and am going to be an outlet for these kids going thru what I went thru. Im going to have a louder voice in bringing light to the hate. I love my mixed family and friends. I’m thankful for my friends and family who have had the black community’s back, and my friends who had my back growing up and still do today. My Dads life matters My Brothers life matters My Sisters life matters My Niece and Nephew life matters My Cousins and Aunties life matters My Granny and Papas life matters Proverb 6:16-19
Williams Is Aware of the Impact and Power He Now Has
In a recent conversation with Vic Tafur of The Athletic, Williams talked about his being conscious of the platform players have. Moreover, he says he heard from people from Tuner, where he grew up, after his post. “To hear back from them and the way they wanted to help moving forward was the best part, how we can work together to make some changes. That was very cool.”
In the same conversation, Williams said Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden is being receptive to listening to others. “He wants to hear where people stand, what they have been through and their advice, the ways they want to help change things as a team. How we can do it together in Vegas.” Also, it’s not just Gruden but general manager Mike Mayock as well. “Coach Gruden (and general manager Mike) Mayock have been big supporters and (are) doing everything they can to hear our experiences. And they want to facilitate us being able to help the situation.”
In the same conversation, Williams said that he’s ecstatic about the positive influence NFL players have. Recently, star players partook in a video in which they asked the league to join them in their protest. Regarding the video, the veteran wide receiver says it’s cool to see how players are no longer keeping silent. “For the faces of the league to make a video like that was awesome and crucial for the change that we need … And then Goodell said what needed to be said and we just hope that there is action behind it. And that goes for everybody, not just Goodell.”
It Makes Sense in Retrospect
Further in the interview, Williams confided his reasons for not kneeling back when the movement started. Like many other players, he was afraid of retaliation. “I allowed the negative stuff surrounding it to not let me educate myself enough on ways to help change. The backlash that Colin was getting was a turnoff for a lot of younger players. I was nervous, I was 24, an undrafted guy that wasn’t secure in my position. And that’s no excuse. Looking back, I wish I would have made that jump.”
Moving forward, Williams is now woke, and willing to use his voice. “But now we are at a point where we don’t care about what the consequences of making a stand may be. We need change, and we all need to get out of our comfort zone to make that happen. If you disagree with me taking a stand against racism, I couldn’t care less about your opinion. If I have to make you uncomfortable to force change, then that’s what I will do.”
The Raiders have always been pioneers or racial integration. Now, they are also using their voice to raise awareness and help their community as much as they can.
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Top Photo: Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal