Nebraska linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey fought ignorance with thoughtfulness.
Before Nebraska played Northwestern in Evanston this weekend, three Huskers players—Michael Rose-Ivey, Daishon Neal, and Mohamed Barry—took a knee during the national anthem. On Monday, Rose-Ivey delivered a lengthy speech to the media explaining why he felt compelled to take part in the protests gaining traction across the country. It's an eloquent and thoughtful response to some hateful and straight-up racist comments he says he's received from former classmates, so-called friends, and Huskers fans.
It is disheartening to see the same social injustice that the likes of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur, Gandhi, W. E. B. Du Bois, Susan B. Anthony, Nelson Mandela, Thurgood Marhsall, Marcus Garvey, Huey P. Newton, Maya Angelou, Jackie Robinson, and Muhammad Ali amongst others have spoken out about since the birth of this nation. As a young black man I cannot hide from these realities. As a child of the most high, I cannot hide from my responsibilities to be a voice for those who cannot speak loud enough to reach those that can help change their reality, or the voices that continue to be ignored or muted. Those who are continuously told it is their fault that their problems exist, that only if they do better that they will have better, that if you just pull up your pants etc., etc.,—you can fill in your own 'what if,'—but it's not so simple, it's not so clear.
I can say that with confidence because even though I have done better, even though I am a college graduate, even though I am blessed and fortunate enough to play college football at the highest level and at one of the most prestigious schools in college football, even though I am a healthy being and even though I am fully conscious; I have still endured racism. I was still referred to on Facebook and Twitter as a "clueless, confused nigger" by former high school classmates, friends, peers, and even Husker fans. Some believe Daishon, Mohamed, and myself should be kicked off the team or suspended while some said we deserved to be lynched or shot just like other black people that have died recently.
Rose-Ivey paused here to gather himself, before continuing:
Another believed that since we didn't want to stand for the anthem, then we should be hung before the anthem for the next game. These are actual statements we received from fans.
Rose-Ivey then went on to discredit the notion that this is internet tough talk by retelling a story from his freshman year, when he went to a frat party. He was told "niggers are not allowed in this house" and he was promptly escorted out by security seven minutes later. He then closed by quoting James Baldwin: "I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually."