155: Joe Kelly: Former first round draft pick and teammate of mine, Joe Kelly speaks up about Black Lives Matter. Very powerful convo including former Head Coach Jim Mora on the pod. Joe details what it has been like to be black in America.

June 12, 2020

Joe Kelly

Host Mark Pattison met Joe Kelly at the University of Washington. Since then, Joe Kelly has had an 11-year NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, Los Angeles Raiders, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, and Philadelphia Eagles. But Jim’s success on the field didn’t protect him from racial discrimination off of the field as an African American man. “This isn’t something that is new for the African American community. It is just now that it is being taped. If we can go back to what half of America thought was very controversial with Colin Kaepernick taking a knee. We as African Americans understood it was never about the flag. That is a discussion that needs to be had as well because it wasn’t about disrespecting the flag, disrespecting the national anthem. His focus was on what you saw in Minneapolis 7 days ago with Mr. Floyd. We are talking about the things that we as African Americans deal with, regardless of your financial status. Still, when you walk out of that door, you are black. When you come out of that locker room, you’re black. When you cash that $1 million check, you’re black.”

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Joe Kelly about how history keeps repeating itself with racial oppression and what Joe Kelly has experienced with his own eyes. “In my own neighborhoods, I didn’t really have that problem growing up. But it wasn’t until I got to the NFL and I was making money that I started personally dealing with being racially profiled, being stopped and not getting a ticket, but having a gun put to my head. That happened to me 6-7 times. I never got a ticket. But I fit the description. So, what we’re talking about here, regardless of what Mr. Floyd did 10 minutes prior to the video. For 9 minutes, for 9 minutes the police had their knee on his neck and basically murdered the guy. But this isn’t anything new to us.”  

What You Will Learn:

Joe highlights the economic inequities that exist against African Americans. “When you talk about generational wealth, the African American community has never really been allowed, for years, to be able to be put in that category because they weren’t initially allowed to own homes and the banks wouldn’t allow them or loan money to them to buy the homes. They started businesses. They couldn’t get loans to start businesses. So, you always stay at a point where you are always below the poverty level.” 

Equality and change takes people of all races. “This thing has galvanized. Even with the Civil Rights movement we had pockets of the United States, cities. There are countries. We have countries right now, and you have 50% of the people out there protesting are caucasian. So, when we made the changes in the Civil Rights, it wasn’t just because of us protesting and rioting, because at the end of the day we didn’t have power with the politicians. We had to get out there and vote. You have to vote for people that are going to change policies.”

There has been a long-wronging history of police brutality against African Americans. “Here, being a first-round pick, being racially profiled and having guns put to my head at routine stops. We’re trying to let everybody understand that plight of police brutality, and they don’t have to have a reason. You’ve seen the caucasian kid that went in and murdered wonderful African Americans in South Carolina. When they caught him, they eventually got Burger King for him. He wasn’t thrown to the grown. He wasn’t brutally maimed.” 

Joe Kelly explains white privilege and how he has had to carry himself out in public in order to deal with it safely. “White Americans need to understand, not just White Supremacy because those are people way on the right, white privilege. You know, there is white privilege. Me being an African American man, I’ve been in the elevator, being the only African American in the elevator and I have to purposely make other people, other white people on the elevator feel comfortable because I don’t want them to think that I’m this angry black man and that they have to worry about getting robbed. That is ingrained.” 

Black Lives Matter is about African Americans having equal opportunities, equal legal and justice treatment, and equal economic equity. “Understand that when we say Black Lives Matter, we’re not saying that your life doesn’t matter, my life is more important than yours. We want to be equal. We’re not hollering because we want to be superior to you. We’ve been trying to fight for 400 years to say that we are your equal. We want to have equal access to housing. We want to have equal access to jobs. What we’re talking about here is being able to open up a business, getting a bank loan, the judicial system. Talking about black-on-black crime, when black folks kill black folks, they go to jail for a long time. It is working in that aspect. But it is not working when a black person is killed at the hands of a police officer.” 

Unequal Education Systems

There is a huge disparity between schools in poverty-stricken black inner city neighborhoods and wealthy white neighborhoods. “When you are growing up with an educational system that is so inferior to a school that is probably five minutes away. Those kids have better teachers. They have better resources. They have better extra-curricular activities. Where here, kids are coming to school in inner city areas, they come to school hungry. My kids, I’ve been doing group homes since I retired and my kids go to school and the books they bring home. They had this book in the 80s when I was in school. It starts there. It starts with the educational system, getting to some point where it is fair.” 

Change is Needed

During this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, the discussion with Joe Kelly also delves into the importance of true racial change and unity around this issue. “The African American community can in no way do this by ourselves systemically. This has been part of our society since the beginning, before slavery. It isn’t changing overnight. You would think after Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights that we wouldn’t be discussing what happened to Floyd. That should be so far from reality. But that is our reality.”

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