Sports Column

MCMURRY: Breaking the silence

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They say I’m privileged because I’m a white male.

They’re right.

They say I take advantage of those privileges.

I do — likely every day, without even knowing it.

They say there is still a race issue in the United States of America.

I’m here to say that this is absolute fact, and that it’s extremely unfortunate that George Floyd, who allegedly had a counterfeit bill, had to be murdered by a police officer for there to be an outcry. That it’s extremely unfortunate that in order for people’s voices and opinions to be heard, that people have to riot and loot with violence, instead of peacefully protest.

This does two things.

It groups a handful of bad cops with all law enforcement, and it groups a handful of violent protesters with the ones doing it the right way.

Both are wrong, and it is dividing our country further apart.

I am a 25-year-old white male living in a rural Indiana county that has a 96% white population.

I have absolutely no idea what it is like to be a black man, and living in an area where I might not feel safe.

I have no idea what it’s like to not have both of my parents in my life. I have no idea what it’s like to be pulled over by an officer and not feel safe.

And I hope that it does not appear that I’ve ever pretended to know what that feels like.

I want all people, of all color to know that I am here, and I’m listening, and I’m doing my best to learn and to gather information that better helps me understand what you are dealing with, even though I can never physically be in your shoes.

How does this directly relate to sports you may ask?

I’m not here to argue whether Colin Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the national anthem in 2016 was an act of disrespect toward the flag. That’s not the issue here.

The issue is we didn’t listen to Kaepernick. Myself, along with 30 NFL owners, and millions of Americans turned our back to a quarterback that just a few years before we were praising as he led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl. Kaepernick used his platform to speak out on an issue, and we tuned him out.

It’s unfortunate that it took a global pandemic, that halted sports all across the country in order for us to start listening.

It’s time to listen, and it’s time to act.

It’s time to stop putting ourselves first, and instead put others first. It’s time to put God and His plan first.

It’s time to start healing as a nation. Healing from a health crisis that has altered our entire lives, but more importantly start moving forward with the next steps to make this country an even better place to live. It’s time to start looking at each other as citizens of the United States, and not white, black, Latino, male and female.

I love my community, and the people who live here. I believe we have strong leaders, trustworthy citizens and law enforcement that believes in the code of honor they swore to when they signed on.

There are laws that have given black people equal rights in this country, but we all know how well people like to follow the rules. It’s not time to change those laws, but add to them, and make them more profound, and make them stand up in the court of law. To make sure that signs in businesses that say they do not discriminate, are actually upheld. To make sure that our police officers treat a black person just as they would treat a white one. And that if they don’t, they are held accountable.

Let’s listen, let’s learn and let’s all move forward, together.

The key word is together.

As I have watched things unfold in the last couple of weeks, I have been hurt by what I see on social media. Constant hate and back and forth arguing. Folks, this is America, and we are all entitled to our opinions. Just because you don’t believe the same exact thing as someone else, it doesn’t mean you can’t love them, reach out to them and be thankful for them.

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God,” Leviticus 19:33-34 states.

My voice as a small stown newspaper writer who spends his days mowing lawns and his evenings at high school sporting events is very small, and this week I have thought about what can I do in my daily life to make a difference. To seek true equality, and allow my brothers and sisters of all color in the eyes of the Lord one day to be able to experience the same privileges that I do.

This is what I urge everyone to do. Go out and befriend someone that doesn’t look, talk or act like you. Get to know them, listen, understand and love them.

I still believe the United States of America is the greatest country in the world, and my view on that will never change. But we can do better in so many ways, and right now the voice that needs to be heard is from the black community.

Because while All Lives Matter, the truth is we haven’t yet overcome the No. 1 problem this country has faced since it’s inception nearly 250 years ago, and that is Black Lives Matter.

Jared McMurry was born and raised in Montgomery County and is the Sports Editor of the Journal Review. He can be reached by email at jmcmurry@jrpress.com and by phone at 765-918-8656. Follow him on Twitter @jaredmac26

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