We have been called to action.
We are broken. We are angry. We are hurting. We are confused. And yes, we are in denial.
To the student athletes involved:
I forgive you. I do not speak for everyone, but I am not foolish enough to suppress memories of days I was once reckless and careless- despite the strong moral foundation my parents ( black and white) created for me.
I hope you take this experience as an opportunity to blossom into honorable men. You have just begun to navigate this life— choose your words and your actions wisely.
To the parents of the student athletes :
I forgive you. I do not see the hope for you- that I do for your children - so I will not waste much time lamenting on the responsibilities you have been gifted. For some, your foundations are rooted in fear and bigotry. For others, perhaps you are so desensitized to the feelings of others, that you lack the wherewithal to recognize your contribution to this mess. You may never know the visceral wounds of being called a “nigger” or a “coon”- but I imagine many of you , at this very moment- have a palpable ache for the scrutiny, gnashing anger, and public backlash your boys are experiencing. As a parent- I’m sure your goal is to protect them from the hatred they’ve been subjected to. Yeah... as a parent of a black boy in Kings schools- I can say I hurt for my child too- and am on the same mission to protect him. The difference is , he didn’t wear “cracker “ or “white trash” on his jersey. He was just born with brown skin.
To the coach :
I forgive you. I don’t need to say much more. You’ve made your bed. I pray you find your way.
To the screen printing company:
I forgive you, Despite your lack of effort to identify and possibly kibosh this entire stunt. Money over morals will never bring you success.
To the superintendent and board of education
I forgive you. Some of you had knowledge of this, and decided not to act. The attempts to distance yourselves from the rec league fall amongst a nation of deaf ears. Particularly because you were personally involved. The whole is only as strong as its parts. One of your parts was broken. Mr McKeirnan admitted , having a son on the team, that he was aware of the uniforms. Given his knowledge - I challenge your position - as leaders of the school system - that you systematically failed to prevent this from happening.
I wish I could believe that you were sorry this happened , but as it stands , your continuous efforts to defend your position have demonstrated you are simply sorry you were exposed. I hope you prove me wrong.
To the Milford/ Kings rec games attendees (first three games):
I forgive you. Even though you were privy to this on 12/3; 12/10; and 12/17. You sat in the stands. You watched. You said nothing. Well, nothing to effect change. It takes courage to stand against the current. I applaud Tony Rue for his courage to do so. Thank you Tony, from the bottom of my heart.
It is important to understand that racism extends beyond the concept of prejudice. To the surprise of many, the essential feature of racism is not hostility or misperception, but the defense of a system which creates advantage on the basis of race.
In our current climate , racial discrimination and injustice continue to be perpetuated and promoted throughout every institution of society. As I outlined above, these institutions include-economics(printing company), education( board of education) , entertainment (rec basketball team) , family( of the players involved) , labor(refs who coached the game), politics (some would argue the school board) , religion, science and war.
I am merely taking an opportunity to identify the system which failed here. Let’s identify it, and let’s dismantle it.
Forgiveness is essential for forward progress. Do not mistake forgiveness for accountability . You do not have a free pass to intentionally or unintentionally hurt people. There are and should be consequences. Facts don’t care about your feelings. But for what it’s worth, I choose to not live in anger and resentment. There is nothing to gain in that.
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude “ ~Martin Luther king jr.