Former Vanderbilt Standout Julian Terrell Speaks Out

Words have power, and those written Sunday by former Vanderbilt basketball standout Julian Terrell are powerful and worth sharing in these tense and confusing times.

The protest the last week has brought about issues in our nation that strikes at the heart of us all. Those events have caused people from all walks of life to examine things around them, hopefully, in ways, they haven't previously. 

I'm a sportswriter, I don't do news, and I'm not looking to be an activist. I'm also not looking to turn this page into a political site, or move away from sports. That's not the goal here, but remaining silent shouldn't be acceptable, either. 

I have strong feelings and opinions about the current state of affairs in this country, and when violence struck close to home on Saturday night, I felt as though I needed to address it in some way. 

A small group of individuals took to the streets of Nashville that afternoon and began damaging, setting fires to, and looting businesses in the downtown Nashville area while protesting the killing last  Monday of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, by white police officer Derek Chauvin, while three other officers stood by. (Chauvin was fired, arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on Friday. The other three officers have not been arrested.)

Watching these protests unfold live television was an unsettling image, but mine is not the voice that needed to be heard for my words would mean little in context what people throughout our nation are feeling at this time. 

On Sunday, while reading through news and social media, I came upon a series of tweets from former Vanderbilt basketball standout Julian Terrell that perfectly reflected my feelings and was worthy of me stepping outside sports to share.

Here are the unedited words of Terrell, used with his permission. 

"I've held off tweeting. I am angry. I am angry because the fight being fought today is not the correct fight. The correct fight is right vs. wrong. And I see wrong, being fought with wrong. And that won't make it right. I am exhausted with this."

"We, as people, need to do better. I don't have the answers. I wish I did. I wish I knew how to stand up and influence generational change. I can't do it alone. Everyone has to do their part, and WE can change! I'm sick of seeing the words "Blacks" and "Whites." I am sick of it. I'm sick of it because every time I hear it, I hear the meaning behind it."

"I  am a well educated African American male. I would never call a group of people "Blacks" or "Whites" because it's derogatory. It's a shame. I just don't fathom how you can utter those words and be ok with yourself. It's sickening!"

"Maybe my life is different than yours. Maybe I'm lucky I grew up with an orange ball in my hand that treated no person differently. I have friends from every race. I have brothers of every race. I'm married to a different race. I have biracial children. I have family of every race. I am sick of us destroying one another."

"If there is one thing I can do to make a change, it starts with me. I ask that YOU start with YOU, and hopefully, WE, as American people, can change!"

Thank you, Julian, and may your words speak to others as they did to me. 

NOTE: Julian is a Nashville native, having attended Ezell Harding Christian School before enrolling at Vanderbilt from 2002-06 where he helped the Commodores reach the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2004. 

Follow Greg on Twitter @GregAriasSports and @SIVanderbilt or Facebook at Vanderbilt Commodores-Maven.