Two weeks ago, I launched a new feature on my Down In The Valley podcast. I’ve called it Voices of ISU. For the first two episodes, I split a lengthy interview I did with Indiana State legend Duane Klueh into two parts as he talked about his life and times.
While I will talk about ISU’s past as I do these podcasts, the feature does not necessarily have a historical bent to it. To that end, the next episode of Voices Of ISU, which will be released on Wednesday, will feature current ISU football players Dante Hendrix and Mekhi Ware, two of the three football players to organize the March For Justice that took place on Aug. 2 at the Vigo County Courthouse and that went to ISU’s campus and back.
Purely from a journalistic point of view, I feel Hendrix and Ware (fellow organizer of the march, Michael Thomas, declined to be interviewed) deserve a chance to speak about the cause they believe in. From the point of view of someone who has a forum for his own opinions, I think it’s something that needs to be heard.
Whether you’re in sympathy with Black Lives Matter, matters of police-race relations or whether you’re not — it’s vital to listen.
Listening is an attribute that seems quaint in this day and age where we all, in our own ways, retreat into our own bubbles. Oh, we listen. We listen to the many voices out there that confirm what we feel we already know. Folks who lean left or lean right are equally guilty in this regard as far as I’m concerned.
When I say that people need to listen, it’s more than just letting what someone is saying inside your ears, because the temptation is too easy to let it go in one ear and out the other.
Real listening is also about acknowledging uncomfortable truths. Speaking as someone who is white, I think what makes Black Lives Matter uncomfortable for some white people is being confronted with the idea that the America we live in is not the same as the America that minorities live in. That white people do have privileges minorities don’t have.
I do not have to worry about being pulled over because of the color of my skin or worry whether my kids will be subject to the same treatment. African-Americans do. I don’t think it’s shameful to admit that reality. I think it’s the only way to make progress and eradicate it.
People can argue how pervasive that reality is, but if you can’t acknowledge the truth of it, or that it even exists, progress can’t be made. And that’s how matters of race become stuck in a rut and become fodder for political actors on both sides who exploit its tensions.
Just my opinion, but when you boil the Black Lives Matter movement down to its essence, it’s about walking a mile in another man’s shoes and trying to empathize what they’re going through. and then deciding whether you have the sympathy inside you to understand where they’re coming from and what you can to do help fix the issues they raise.
That’s why, as a white man, I support Black Lives Matter. And I also know that race problems can’t be solved by one race alone. Minorities and white people have to solve it together.
Again, it comes back to listening, that’s the first step. In the podcast, Hendrix and Ware illustrate their experiences as African-American men and as athletes. They indicate their desire for constant dialogue, but also, peaceful means of expressing it.
They speak frankly and some of what they say may come off as uncomfortable. I think that’s important. How are white people supposed to understand the experience of minorities if we don’t listen to the bad experiences they’ve endured?
Here are a few examples of what they say. I asked Ware and Hendrix whether they thought some form of racial understand should be a required college course. Neither thought it should be, but Ware expounded on the point.
“I wouldn’t want to say [it should be] required, but this country has dealt with people that [aren’t] affected by police brutality and isn’t affected by racial profiling. People would just turn a blind eye to it because it wouldn’t affect them or their families,” Ware said.
“That needs to change, that’s why we’re continuing,” Ware continued. “You’re going to listen either way because we’re not going to stop talking. Either you’re going to keep walking and we’re going to talk in your ear or you’re going to turn around and then let’s address the problem.”
Later, Hendrix talked about the reaction to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem in 2016 and the peaceful goals that he and his teammates are supporting.
“It’s not about the American soldier or disrespecting the American flag, because we have the utmost respect for them. It’s just to spread awareness of the racial inequalities we go through daily and that’s a good way to peacefully protest,” Hendrix said.
“You see all of those protests that lead to rioting. We don’t want that. We don’t want riots at our protests. We don’t want looters. We want a peaceful protest and [taking a knee] is a great way to do peaceful protest,” Hendrix continued.
I encourage you to listen, not because it’s my podcast, but because it’s important. Nothing gets solved in this world unless people are willing to listen to one another.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or email@example.com. Follow Golden on Twitter at @TribStarTodd.
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