Atlanta Falcons defensive end Steven Means has been sifting through his thoughts the last two weeks. In those two weeks the country has been vocal.
The death of George Floyd in the hands of Minneapolis police officers has ignited protests all around the country and abroad.
Means took to AtlantaFalcons.com to make his thoughts more widely known. Means penned an emotional letter discussing his feelings on the social injustices taking place in the country.
The first section of Means’ letter highlights the unusual nature of racism.
Means opens his letter by recalling his upbringing in inner city Buffalo, New York. Means admits he felt fortunate to have both of his parents in an environment where that wasn't the case for many of his peers.
“I always felt like I was lucky, because I grew up in a household with my mom and my dad,” Means wrote. “When you grow up, and you see the world for what it is, you realize a lot of people grew up without their mom and their dad.”
Means goes on to recall seeing the same police brutality that has been on the minds of millions as a youngster in Buffalo.
Means admitted things were different in his days in Buffalo. Means talks about the presence of cameras that have brought the police brutality of today to light.
You know, I'm young, this is before camera phones, this is before video recordings, it's before all of that,” Means writes. “There's no way to win because it's your word versus their word, and they win every single time. You get into a space where you start accepting that to be normal. A normal way of living, you try to avoid it. You try to pick your own battles.”
Means admits that he does't feel African Americans have been listened to. The protests of the past few weeks have opened more ears, but things aren't perfect in the eyes of Means.
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Means goes on to discuss the importance of mental health in the African American community as well as the toll that living through social injustices has on the mind.
Means took part in a protest as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016. He did not kneel, stood, fist raise above his head alongside teammates.
It was Means' opportunity bring awareness to the topic of social injustice.
"I just think it's unfortunate that the message was missed in the spur of all the stuff that was going on during that protest," Means wrote. "The intentional reasons for a protest, in any magnitude, is to spark awareness. And that happened. Whether we missed the mark or whether we hit the goal, whatever the case, awareness was sparked."
Means finishing by discussing the importance of remaining consistent and through, so that change may be enacted one day in the near future. Means recently educated himself on local laws that highlighted the importance of voting locally and not just the larger elections.
"Voting certain prosecutors, district attorneys and judges out of office," Means wrote. "Getting new people in there that really care about the communities in the local elections and the local level especially, because that's what's going to really impact that community. I think the main thing that needs to be changed is legislation. I don't know how to go about changing that, but I know that the way the laws are written, they're not written in our favor."