In my 27 years of life, I’ve been called a n***** to my face countless times. “I’ve been pulled over, pulled out of my car and slammed on the hood because the police had suspicions that the car I was driving wasn’t mine. That it was ‘too nice to be owned by a n*****.’
I’ve been denied access to restaurants. I’ve been followed through retail stores while shopping. I’ve been asked for multiple forms of identification when making simple purchases, while the white people in front of me were not. I was picked out of a section at a sporting game because someone was sitting in a seat that wasn’t theirs. They suspected it was me — the only Black person sitting in the section – it was not.
I’ve been out to eat and watched a couple refuse to sit at the open table next to me. I’ve been followed by cops on jogs through neighborhoods. I know people who have woken up in the middle of the night to crosses being burned in their yards. I know people who are locked up in private prisons for petty crimes. I’ve watched people cross the street while I’m walking toward them in the same direction. I’ve stepped into elevators and observed women hide their purses behind their backs. These are some of my experiences. Every Black person in America has experienced similar, if not worse things.
I’ve been observing who has stayed silent. I see you hiding to protect your name and brand from counterparts that might not agree if you say something. I see you putting your own popularity ahead of the lives of innocent people who are being lynched in the streets.
If this letter inspires you to change, this is what we need. We need you to stand by us. We need you to shut your mouths and just listen. We need you to stand by our sides and fight the fight with us at ALL times.
*** The above letter was written by Joshua Keyes, a former NFL player who played for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Houston Texans.