This piece was written by Justin Forsett and originally published on SportsBlog.com.
This is a dark time for our country, and it hurts my heart. I've been hesitant to speak on this subject, but lately I've seen so many great examples of athletes using their platform to speak out that I decided it was time I step up. And especially after hearing about the three police officers killed in Baton Rouge this past weekend – back-to-back-to-back tragedies – I knew it was time to share my thoughts.
I'm tired of seeing dead bodies. We are seeing it so often, but that doesn't mean we can become callous to it. As a black male with two black sons, this is scary. My boys are going to grow up and I'm not always going to be with them. I want their encounter with police to be different than what I am seeing on TV right now. I see people that look like me dying left and right these past few months – whether that's by crime or police – and my heart grieves over that … just like it grieves when I see police officers gunned down in acts of senseless violence. I will never get used to this, and I won't let my heart get callous to it. I want to be part of the solution.
I don't have all the answers, but I do know that love is our most powerful weapon. As a Christian athlete, I believe that you have to love your neighbor like you love yourself. If we do that, then we are all equal, regardless of skin color, gender, occupation, etc. We can change policies and we can change laws, but we still have to love each other.
We also have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable in order for change to happen. People are taking sides and they're seeking to be understood before they understand. We're talking on the phone, but the receiver is broken. Nobody is listening. We need to have some uncomfortable dialogue with each other. And that means more than Tweeting 140 characters or putting out a hashtag. It takes action.
It starts at the dinner table with our families, and then it goes to work during lunch breaks … just talking, being open, transparent, candid and vulnerable with one another. We can learn a lot from uncomfortable conversations. We don't have to agree with each other's points of view, but we do have to agree that there's only once race – the human race. Once we can all agree with that, true change will happen.
I also think it's necessary that we see improved communication between police officers and their communities (and vice-versa) so that those relationships are based on trust and respect. I grew up in the south, and I can remember the police having meetings right by our church. My Grandma always waved at the officers, and they knew each other's names. Let's get back to that.
We as a nation have to look at ourselves in the mirror. People are grieving. We have to be the change that we want to see. It starts with us. I don't have all the answers, but I know that if we want to see change, we need to listen and learn together. It's going to take more than just talk; it's going to take each of us pounding the pavement and investing in each other and our communities if we are going to grow and change. We all have a platform, whether you're a professional athlete or a schoolteacher or a janitor. People are watching. Are you being the change?
This a dark time for our country. Let's rise up together. Let's serve each other, come together and unite. Let's go out and be the light that can make a difference.