The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Richard Sherman: Black lives ‘should matter all the time’

(L.G. Patterson/AP)

Richard Sherman denied Wednesday writing an essay on the Black Lives Matter movement, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have an opinion on the topic.

Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks cornerback who attended Stanford after growing up in Compton, Calif., has spoken about racial matters before and, whether you agree or not, his views are always worth reading and listening to.

He began by saying that he had not written the post:

A lot of people had sent it to me over the weekend, but I thought this would be the best place to address it. There were some points in that article, or in that post, that were relevant and I could agree with. But there were also some obviously ignorant points in there. I don’t think any time’s a time to call out for an all-out war against police or any race of people. I thought that was an ignorant statement. But as a black man, I do understand that black lives matter. You know, I stand for that, I believe in that wholeheartedly.

He went on to add that, “if black lives matter, then it should matter all the time.”

But I also think that there’s a way to go about things, and there’s a way to do things. And I think the issue at hand needs to be addressed internally, and before we move on, because from personal experience, you know, you have living in the hood, living in the inner city, you deal with things, you deal with people dying. Dealt with a best friend getting killed … it was two 35-year-old black men. Wasn’t no police officer involved, wasn’t anybody else involved, and I didn’t hear anybody shouting “black lives matter” then … and I think that’s the point we need to get to is that we need to deal with our own internal issues before we move forward and start pointing fingers and start attacking other people. We need to solidify ourselves as people and deal with our issues, because I think as long as we have black-on-black crime and, you know, one black man killing another … if black lives matter, then it should matter all the time. You should never let somebody get killed — that’s somebody’s son, that’s somebody’s brother, that’s somebody’s friend. So you should always keep that in mind.

Sherman urged people to continue to consider the matter because “right now is a perfect time to deal with it.”

And there’s a lot of dealings with police officers right now, I don’t think all cops are bad. You know, I think there’s some great cops out there, who do everything in their power to uphold the badge and uphold the honor and protect the people in society. But there are bad cops, and I think that also needs to be addressed. I think the police officers we have right now — you know, some of it is being brought to light, because of video cameras, everybody has a camera phone. But these are things a lot of us have dealt with our whole lives. And I think right now is a perfect time to deal with it. The climate we’re in … everybody’s being more accepting, you know, so I think the ignorance should stop. I think people realize that, at the end of the day, we’re all human beings. So, you know, before we’re black, white, Asian, Polynesian, Latino — we’re humans. So, it’s up to us to stop it. Thank you.”

In January 2014, Sherman spoke out when the word “thug” was thrown around to describe his postgame interview with Erin Andrews. That interview sparked a discussion of race, one in which Henry Aaron sprang to Sherman’s defense. Sherman elaborated on his feelings in a press conference a few days later.

[Sherman frustrated by reaction to interview]

“The only reason it bothers me is it seems like it’s an accepted way of calling someone the N-word nowadays. It’s like everybody else said the N-word and they said thug and they’re like, ‘That’s fine,’ ” Sherman said. “That’s where it kind of takes me aback. It’s kind of disappointing because they know. What is the definition of a thug, really?”

Sherman went on to speak of his upbringing. The son of a social worker and garbage-truck driver, he was a communications major at Stanford.

[Sherman’s postgame rant goes viral]

“I know some real thugs, and they know I’m the farthest thing from a thug,” Sherman said. “I fought that my whole life, just coming from where I come from. Just because you hear Compton or you hear Watts, you hear things like that, you just think ‘thug,’ ‘he’s a gangster.’ He’s this, that and the other. And you hear ‘Stanford,’ and they’re like, Aw, man, that doesn’t even make sense. That’s an oxymoron. He’s a gangster. You fight it for so long, and to have it come back up and have people use it again is frustrating.”

H/T Tacoma News Tribune