I am never going to know what it is like to be a black man in this country. Every day wondering if I am going to be pulled over for driving while black. Having the cops called on me for walking through a neighborhood people do not think I belong. The worry of being shot just for wearing a hoodie or having dreads. Being put in illegal choke holds and pleading to police officers’ deaf ears “I can’t breathe!” I am never going to have to have that talk with my kids that no parent should.
The closest I can even come to fathom and understand are two things. The first is being Jewish and hoping someone does not storm a synagogue I am praying in and kill me because of my religion. The second is having the cops called on me while registering voters in Las Vegas because I looked like an “illegal immigrant registering other illegal immigrants” based on the dark tan complexion I had gotten after being in the sun for 8 hours a day over a period of weeks. I am not even going to pretend that comes close to being black in America daily. Because it does not.
The moment is still seared into my brain like it was yesterday. Standing on the White House lawn with hundreds of others to celebrate the Washington Nationals World Series. It did not feel like a political rally like some had felt it was. Finally, the face of the franchise stepped to the microphone. A player, whom I never thought I would see win the World Series before he retired. A player whom I have rooted and gritted my teeth for to succeed the past 15 years. He started his speech and then those unfortunate words came out “…thank you for keeping everyone here safe in our country and continuing to make America the greatest country to live in in the world.”
I am sorry, WHAT?!?!
Look, I am not naïve enough to think that all athletes have the same political mindset as I do. That would be completely irrational and immature of me.
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But, did I just hear a highly educated man say that the country has been made safer by a President who said that he equated Nazi’s and alt-right domestic terrorists as “good guys” and wreaked havoc on Ryan’s college town? A President who supports groups that want to see me, someone of the Jewish faith, put into the ground because of my religion? Yes, sadly I did. And Ryan rightfully received backlash for his comments from fans and people of all backgrounds that recognize that this country is not safer for minorities.
Fast forward to today. My question to Ryan is this, do you still believe those words? That everyone here in America is safer after we have seen two public lynching’s? Does Ryan still feel it is safer for his minority teammates: Michael A. Taylor, Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Howie Kendrick, Joe Ross, Wander Suero, Eric Thames, and Wilmer Difo among others on the team and in the farm system? Does he think it is safer for the Lerner family and that they are exempt from anti-Semitic attacks?
Bottom line, it is clear the country is not safer for Jews let alone African American or Latinos. If anything, it has gotten worse. Anti-Semitic attacks have been consistently on the rise since Trump announced his candidacy along with attacks on those that are voiceless and underrepresented. Does Ryan really think the country is safer for us?
According to ABC News, there are “54 cases invoking Trump in connection with violence, threats, and alleged assaults.” Is this a safer America for everyone that Ryan believes President Trump has created?
If there has been an attempt by Ryan to clarify or walk back his words, I have yet to see or hear it (if he has, please send it my way). And it is disappointing. He plays in a city that is majority minority, a plurality of African Americans, and plays for owners who have been under verbal assault from the highest levels of government. As white athletes and coaches have poured out statements in support for systemic change and support for our black brothers and sisters there has been one that has been missing. Where’s Ryan’s statement? Where is his leadership?
The silence is becoming more deafening on this then not trying to explain his remarks at the White House. These words and silence are not Ryan’s legacy, but they will be a part of it.