Full transcript: Bobby Wagner’s statement on racial inequality
Linebacker Bobby Wagner is a Seahawks captain and is entering his ninth season with the team. On Monday, he spoke with Seattle-area reporters in an online video call.
Related column: Wagner uses his voice to make sure message isn’t lost
Before Wagner took questions, he had something he wanted to say. What follows is a verbatim transcript of Wagner’s opening remarks, which lasted more than 6 minutes:
“I feel like there’s obviously something more important that we need to address before we get to football. Obviously the stuff that has gone on the past week, especially few days, weekend, has been crazy. Like many in the community, the black community, I’m hurt. Sad. In pain. That we had to watch another video of a black man being murdered, and watching him gasp and try to get air and say to the cop, ‘I can’t breathe’ and ask, basically asking for life. That’s not something that you ever get used to.
“So I want to say that I support the protesters. I understand the message. I understand why what’s going on, what’s happening. I feel like it’s important, especially sitting here with you guys in the media, you guys play – I think – a pretty big role in what’s going on right now because you guys play a part in the narrative, and so over the years we have always talked to you about you guys being able to … say what’s really going on. So I feel like a lot of focus on the rioting, the looting, the people stealing stuff, but we’re not talking enough about what started that.
“I think the black community is tired of seeing the same things going on and not seeing a change. I think we’re tired of seeing people not being held accountable for the actions that they do, understanding if we were in that position, we would be held accountable. So I challenge everybody on this call to be a part of the media and report the message and what it really is. We’re tired of seeing black people getting killed, you know what I’m saying.
“I’m having conversations with people and somebody said, ‘Man, you know what, I’m afraid to have a child. I’m afraid to have a black child because I don’t know how they’re going to be treated in this world based off their skin color.’ That’s not a position anybody should be in. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t even know if what I’m saying is coming out perfect. I do know that we need to educate ourselves. On both sides.
“I feel like white people need to educate themselves on what the black experience is like. We look at the media – the media is really white – but there’s some black media and I think it’s important to have a conversation with them to understand, ‘What are some of the things you’re going through?’
“Football is a special place because we get to be around all walks of life. White, black, people from Canada, all over. To be exposed to those things. I challenge you guys to educate yourselves on what it’s like to be black in America. I definitely feel like we have to educate ourselves as well because there’s a lot of things that they’re not teaching us in schools. There’s a lot of things that we are not learning in schools, and we need to figure out why that is. Everybody is supposed to be getting the same education, but we all know that’s not the case. We need to fix that.
“What’s the point in having a camera and watching someone murder someone if they’re not going to be held accountable for their actions?
“I feel like this is a very interesting time right now. I feel like a lot of people are listening, especially in the white community. Maybe. I’m not sure. I think it’s important that you try to get that knowledge, and I think that it’s important that you reach out to your fellow black members in the media to try to get that knowledge because they always say, “Knowledge is power.” And I believe that, but I also believe that the ability to use and apply that knowledge is where the true power comes. What’s good in having knowledge if you ain’t going to use it. So use the knowledge. See how you can help, and spread the message.
“I was there at the protests on Saturday, and they were very peaceful until some white people started burning up cop cars. Report the protests – the peaceful side of the protests – as well. Report the people that are doing good because there’s a lot of people that are doing good out there and there’s a lot of people who want to see the world change and don’t want to see the world like this anymore. We want to feel good to have our kids in this world, and it has to mean something to you guys. I feel like it don’t really hit home until it happens to you.
“I can’t see everybody on this Zoom call, but I would go out on a limb and say y’all rock with me. I’m pretty sure everybody on this call rocks with me, so imagine if I was that person, having the knee to their neck. How would you feel? It don’t need to happen to someone close to you for you to feel that way. I just urge everybody to educate themselves. I urge everybody to figure out what we can do to make this better. I don’t have all the answers.
“I’m hurting and (ticked) off like everybody else. I’m tired like everybody else, and I want to see something different, but it’s going to take leadership. We don’t have that leadership right now. We have somebody in the office that is calling black protesters thugs and white protesters good people, and that’s not OK. As white people, y’all need to check that. That’s on y’all to check that. We can only check it so much. It’s got to mean something to you. Yeah, man. I think that’s kind of what I had on my heart. Hopefully that came out how I wanted it to come out, and we can talk about football.”