Michael Rose-Ivey addressed the media Monday, talking about his decision to protest the national anthem last Saturday, and the kind of backlash he received for doing so.
Rose-Ivey was one of three Nebraska players to take a knee during the anthem prior to the Huskers game against Northwestern. Monday, he read a statement saying that the issues were bigger than football and why the protest matters to him.
Read his full statement below:
“First off I want to say my name is Michael Rose-Ivey, I’m a student athlete at the University of Nebraska. I want to thank Coach Riley and the administration and the university to allow me to step out and speak on my beliefs on my own behalf I want to thank you guys for being here to listen to me.
As everyone is aware this past Saturday this Saturday against Northwestern Mohammed Barry, DaiShon Neil and myself kneeled in solidarity with Colin Kapernick and many other athletes across the country both professional and non-professional, who are standing together to use their various platforms to bring awareness about police brutality and the recent death of black men and women at the hands of police officers.
While the anthem played I prayed along with Daishon and Mohammed and we prayed for God to watch over us and protect us, to look down on this country with grace and mercy. And to look down on all of us with grace and mercy. See we are not perfect beings, but as Corinthians 2:5 days, not that we are sufficient in our own selves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.
As we looked at what’s been going on in this country, the injustice that has been taken place primarily against people of color, we all realize there is a systemic problem in America that needs to be addressed. We felt it was our duty to step up and join the chorus of athletes in the NFL, the WNBA, college and high school using their platforms to highlights these issues. We did this understanding the implication of these actions. But what we didn’t expect, was the enormous amount of hateful, racially motivated comments we received from friends, peers, fans, members of the media and others about the message of protests. While you may disagree with the method, these reactions further underscore the need for this protest and gives us just a small glimpse into the persistent problem of race and racism in this country, and the divisive mentality of some Americans.
To make it clear, I am not anti-police, I am no anti-military, nor am I anti-American.
I love my country, deeply and I appreciate the freedoms that it professes and afford me. I have traveled outside the united states and I have seen how people live in other countries. I have seen it with my own eyes, and I have seen, and even though I have endured hardships as a kid, and didn’t grow up with the world upon my hands, as a conscious being, I’m able to recognize that there are people out there who are in a much worse position than I am.
I find it very concerning how some of my fellow Americans can not do the same thing when it comes to the issues that we are talking about today.
Unfortunately I can not turn a blind eye to injustice. As Dr. King said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere. The hottest place in Hell of for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
Therefore I believe it is my job, first as a man of faith, which teaches me for what you have done for your brothers you have done for me, and secondly as a young black man who sees people who look like me being unfairly treated, who do not have the platform to let others know about these injustices that are going on every single day. I feel I am obligated to stand up and bring awareness to the social injustices, that are not limited to police brutality but also to the policies and the laws that discriminate and hinder the growth and opportunities of people of color, low income people, women and other marginalized communities.
Again, there are issues that need to be addressed. There are issues that can no longer be pushed off to the backs of another generation. For me, I look at it like this: do I want my kids to be a part of this? To have to endure the same struggles that those that came before me had to?
No I don’t.
So it is my job to work to make this world a better place for the next generation. It is disheartening to see the same social injustices that the likes of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther Kings, Malcom X, Bob Marly, Tupac Shakur, Ghandi, Susan B. Anthony, Nelson Mandela, Thurgood Marshall, Marcus Garvey, Huey P. Newton, Maya Angelou, Jackie Robinson and Mohammad 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 those of Most high, I cannot hide from my responsibility 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 their problems exist, that only if they do better than 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 to play college football at the highest level, and at one of the most prestigious college football schools, even though I am a healthy being and even though I am fully conscious, I have still endured racism.
I have still been referred to on Facebook and Twitter as a clueless confused ni**er, who by a former high school classmates, friends peers and even Husker fans. Some believe DaiShon, Mohammed and myself should be kicked off the team or suspended, while some said we deserved to be lynched or shot just like the other black people that have died recently. Another believed that since we didn’t want to stand for the anthem we should be hung before the anthem for the next game.
These are actual statements we received from fans.
People assume this is just internet talk, but I can tell you from my own experience, at this very institution, and visiting other college campuses within he past few years that racism is still a problem that must be addressed. I can’t tell you the numerous amount of times I’ve heard the n-word being shouted to my teammates and I by opposing fans behind our bench.
My freshman year I could remember going to a frat party and was told that “ni**as were not allowed in this house.” We were escorted out several minutes later by security officers.
People want athletes like DaiShon, Mohammad and myself to remain silent and just play football. However we cannot ignore that the lives that we’ve lived. And we as black athletes cannot remain silent. We are fully aware that football consumes only a small part of our lives, as we are often reminded football doesn’t last forever.
These issues are bigger than football. These issues are bigger than me, these issues are bigger than you, these issues are bigger than all of us because it impacts all of us, whether you believe it or not. We must have accountability, we must have understanding, we must have love, but we must have genuine dialogue, we must have genuine solutions, and demand genuine action.
We must demand that from ourselves, we must demand that from our family members, we must demand that from our friends, we must demand it from our schools, we must demand it from our police officers, we must demand it from our government representatives, and must demand it from everyone in this nation. That is everyone’s role as a conscious being.
I believe we are supposed to look out for one another and call out injustices of one another, even the oppressed. Even when you have nothing to gain, and you have everything to lose.
American is a great place, despite the ugly blemishes, I love that I am able to wake up and worship my God without fear of persecution. I love that I’m able to express my viewpoint and partake upon my constitutional right, this is what makes America great. But I cannot also ignore those things that keep America divided.
I believe in the promise of America that tell me all men are created equal and have the right of liberty, justice and equality. But unfortunately, America has not always lived up to those ideals. So in the words of James Baldwin, “I love America more than other country in the world, and exactly for this reason I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
It is my hope that in taking a knee the conscious of the entire nation will be raised and everyone will be challenged to truly come together and work toward fairness, equality and justice for all. We all have an important role. We all have that role and we all have that responsibly.