With 'Heavy Heart,' Seahawks QB Russell Wilson Staggered by Racism in America
SEATTLE, WA - Shortly after winning a Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XLVIII, Russell Wilson decided to go out for breakfast in an undisclosed location in California.
As he waited in line for his food, an older white man approached him, telling the Seahawks star quarterback "that's not for you." Wilson thought he wasn't being serious, but his facial expressions and body language suggested otherwise.
After Wilson calmly told him he didn't appreciate being spoken to that way, the man immediately departed the restaurant. It was an unpleasant reminder of that racial divide that still exists in America, even when it comes to superstar athletes.
"That was a heavy moment for me," Wilson said. "Even though it didn't turn into something, what if it did? That's the sad part of what we're talking about."
From a young age, Wilson learned from his father how to safeguard himself from such racial profiling. For example, growing up in Richmond, Virginia, he was told not to put his hands in his pockets at the gas station.
"The fact my dad even had to tell me that is a problem," Wilson stated.
Following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, an emotional, heavy-hearted Wilson wasn't about to talk about football with reporters during a Zoom conference call on Wednesday.
Instead, Wilson wanted to express his thoughts on the frustrations boiling over in our country, condemning the police for their actions and offering his support for those protesting for social justice.
"When you think about the idea of Black Lives Matter, they do matter, and the reality is that me, as a black person, people are getting murdered on the street, people are getting shot down and the understanding that it's not like that for every other race. It's like that in particular for the black community," Wilson said.
"Racism is as real as it's ever been. It's staggering."
Calling for "radical changes" to be made, Wilson praised former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his efforts raising awareness for racial oppression by taking a knee during the national anthem four years ago.
At the time, Kaepernick drew widespread ire from people who felt he was disrespecting the flag. That mindset still remains for some, including Saints quarterback Drew Brees, but Wilson believes many misunderstood what he was trying to accomplish and ignored the real message.
"The reality is that Colin was trying to symbolize the oppression that has been going on in America and that has been going on for 400 years," Wilson said, adding. "I wish I could have been there in Minneapolis to kneel down and just help with George as he's on the floor. I wish I could been there to just help the people in Seattle that are getting brutally abused."
"The reality is we all need to help, we all need to find our own ways of how we're gonna love and how we're gonna make a difference."
As linebacker Bobby Wagner said earlier this week, Wilson understands he doesn't have all the answers. He certainly can't fight human rights issues alone either and knows it will take everyone doing their part to make substantial progress.
Moving forward, the always optimistic Wilson is hopeful people will vote in leaders who can inspire the reform so desperately needed. With two children and a third one coming soon, he continues to pray for a day where they won't have to be concerned about their safety and well-being due to the color of their skin.
"No matter what we believe, I do fundamentally believe there's got to be better. We need people to be able to communicate better, we need people to be able to love better, make the right decisions... For the policemen we do have to be the leaders in those communities and to help and to prevent things like this from happening. That's my prayer."