Miscellany

Texas Tech Football’s Tony Bradford, Jr. and Lady Raider Basketball on Social Injustice

Defensive end Tony Bradford, Jr. wrote a piece about how he wants to be a police officer when he graduates. Don’t get him wrong, he would love to play in the NFL, but in the 8th grade, after watching the video the death of Eric Garner at the hands of New York City police officer, Bradford decided he needed to be police officer. Bradford wanted to be a cop.

I truly believe that tragedies like Eric Garner’s death will continue to happen if we don’t change it. When I say change it, I mean people of color. I honestly feel that if you have more people of color in law enforcement, the people in the city or community are going to respect that and not be so scared. That’s the problem right now. Everyone is scared of the police.

Not everyone in my life has always supported my goal. I understand that. Some of my family and a few of my teammates have had negative experiences with the police and question me about it. I get their frustrations, but instead of complaining about it, I want to do something about it. I’m tired of seeing stories about police brutality. I’m tired of hearing about it. I want to be part of the solution to the problem.

The events of the past week in Minneapolis and George Floyd’s death are the exact reason why black people don’t like the police. He was literally saying “I can’t breathe” and “I’m sorry,” but the officer continued to apply pressure on his neck as if he was resisting. I don’t understand how the training for any of those officers, or really just basic common sense, never kicked in. It frustrates me to no end that events like this continue to happen in our country.

I was still in my uniform as a security officer in the Texas Tech Police Department when I watched the video of George Floyd’s death for the first time. My phone blew up almost immediately with friends and family asking if I still wanted to become a cop in response to that video.

My answer is a definite yes. Do I agree with what those officers did? Absolutely not. They were flat out wrong, but this is the exact reason I want to become a Chief of Police for a major city.

Vision.

We could all use some vision.

And I should also mention that the Lady Raiders basketball team released a video and this is the strongest statement from the athletic department yet.

“How can all lives matter if black lives don’t matter.”

If this offends you, then you should log off the internet because it is coming.

In fact if you don’t believe that college student-athletes will want to protest and that you won’t be able to stomach to watch this happen, then, again, you should probably log off the internet. If your comment starts with “the flag” and “the troops” that’s fine, but these things are going to happen. Be prepared to no longer follow sports if this enrages you to the point of no return.

Get comfortable with these thoughts from Texas head coach Tom Herman (yeah, absolutely):

“Can the average fan relate? No, they can’t,” Herman said. “There’s a double standard maybe a little bit. We’re going to pack 100,000 people into DKR and millions watch on TV that are predominantly white — not all of them certainly, but most of ’em white. We’re gonna cheer when they score touchdowns, and we’re gonna hug our buddy when they get sacks or an interception.

“But we gonna let them date our daughter? Are we going to hire them in a position of power in our company? That’s the question I have for America. You can’t have it both ways.

“And if you’re going to cheer them and love them for three-and-a-half hours a Saturday in the fall, you better have the same feelings for them off the field, because they’re human beings. They deserve the same amount of respect and human rights that all of us do in this country when we agreed on the social contract to be a member of the United States.”

In fact, I would encourage the Texas Tech athletic department to sit down with student-athletes and figure out a way for them to protest if these student-athletes want and to acknowledge what’s happening in the world. This assumes that they haven’t already done this and the fact that this piece by Bradford and the Lady Raider basketball team is an indication that conversations are being had and the athletic department is embracing those conversations.

I’d also add Chris Beard and the basketball team’s attendance at the Lubbock protest is even more evidence that not only are coaches embracing this struggle, but they are walking along their players side-by-side to acknowledge the the issues that African-Americans and people of color face in the United States.

If you don’t believe that you could watch this happen, well, then get comfortable with HGTV or some other channel because that day is coming.

This will probably be a shitshow of comments and I’m okay with that. It won’t change the fact that African-American student-athletes have a voice and want to be heard. The best administrations and coaches, which I believe that Texas Tech has, will, again, embrace those student-athletes and figure out a solution rather than allow it to be a problem. There’s not going to be a perfect way for this to happen and it’s going to make some people really uncomfortable, but that’s kinda the point.

And I’ll also mention one quick personal story. For background purposes, both of my boys are brown (they preferred to be called brown) and they are 8 and 10 years old, Youssouf and Fitsum. Youssouf was told by one of his friends that the reason that George Floyd was killed by the police was because he stole something. This is an 8-year old that still doesn’t have a full grasp of the English language, but his friend, who probably heard it from his parents, left my child with the thought that a police officer is to not only “serve and protect” (which was his initial and correct answer) but to also inflict punishment and decide whether or not a person gets to live or die. He believed that’s what a police officer is supposed to do.

I then had to explain that if there is ever a day where he is made fun of because of the color of his skin, he would need to step-up and speak out. And if it happened to another kid, he would have to be brave. He then asked what happens if they hurt him and I had to tell him that this is the hardest part about being brave is that you may put yourself in harm’s way, but to stand back and be silent was not a solution. Youssouf nodded. Consider that burden. Youssouf is the biggest and strongest kid in his class and even he’s afraid.

And this is why I would implore you to talk to your kids about racism and if you don’t have kids, then talk to your parents about it.

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