Philadelphia Eagles’ wide receiver DeSean Jackson made headlines earlier this month over his use of anti-semitic comments on his Instagram story. Jackson has since issued an apology and says that his comments were taken “the wrong way.” With the way race is being handled in the NFL at the moment, Jackson’s comments are a large step in the wrong direction.
Needless to say, Jackson has received a very large amount of backlash and hate since the incident. On the other side of the coin, there have been a few big names that have tried to combat Jackson’s comments in a positive way. Perhaps the biggest of them all is star wide receiver Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots, who is Jewish.
Edelman posted a video on Instagram Thursday morning issuing Jackson an invitation to the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. Edelman announced, “I have seen DeSean play in his career, make outstanding football plays, and we’ve communicated over social media. I know he said some ugly things, but I do see the opportunity to have a conversation.”
That conversation, Edelman says, is to educate Jackson. Edelman also told Jackson that if they visit the Holocaust Museum together, he would “welcome” an opportunity to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. to be educated by Jackson.
Edelman’s response shows an avenue to change that I wholeheartedly believe in. Racism is a taught behavior, and to fix it you must be open to an educated conversation on why your racist beliefs are indeed racist and wrong. Racism has no place in this day and age.
One of the main reasons that I think this method of combating racism would be so effective is because racists are often very rooted in their beliefs, and thus get angry when you try and tell them they are wrong. A lot of the interactions I’ve seen have only resulted in screaming matches, which in turn results in nothing but more racism and more negativity. This method of calmly but firmly issuing a friendly education could get through to those who go straight to anger.
If you don’t give them the screaming match they want, I argue they’ll be more open to listening to what you have to say. Jackson’s comments were very ugly, but I’m sure it got through to him that a Jewish player wasn’t calling for his head on a silver platter, and instead issued him a friendly lesson. Backlash is deserved, but love and compassion is needed in the world we live in.
Like I said earlier, racism is a taught behavior. For some people, it was just how they were raised and taught to live their lives. To sit down with those people and say “Hey, I know this is just how you were taught, and I understand that, but here’s why you’re wrong.” might be exactly what they need to hear.
Edelman later tweeted that he had talked to DeSean and that they were making plans to use their experiences to educate one another and grow from it. Edelman’s solution worked. While it isn’t realistic to think this could work every time, it is a reassuring bright point in the fight against racism. There are some who will be willing to listen. All you have to do is have the courage to try and have the conversation with them.