PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Many current and former athletes are now speaking out about the racism they have faced and how the country can change for the better. Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant spoke with Eyewitness News about his message of unity.
Avant played 10 seasons in the NFL, eight of which were with the Eagles. He now owns a successful trampoline park in South Jersey.
But even as a business owner and pro athlete, Avant has had to deal with an unfair share of racism.
“Even owning a business at launch, I’ve been called the N-word, I can’t count [how many times] — it’s just how our country is. I can’t let it discourage me, I just have to go on about my day and make the proper decision for my family so I can go home to them,” Avant said.
Avant, like so many other athletes past and present, wants to have a conversation about how to make real changes.
“We have to collectively work together in order to solve these problems,” Avant said. “So to see Emmanuel Acho’s video was, by far, the most brilliant thing I’ve seen all of this year. He was eloquent, it was the right setting, the right music, everything was done perfectly.”
— Emmanuel Acho (@thEMANacho) June 10, 2020
It seems like, over the past few weeks, the narrative might be shifting in the right direction, but how much further does the country have to go to get to where we need to be?
“A long way. Here’s one of the biggest problems to me and I believe that it can change a bunch,” Avant said. “We lack empathy as a culture for one another’s problems.”
Earlier this week, in the midst of a peaceful protest in Franklinville, New Jersey, a man was seen mocking the death of George Floyd by kneeling on the neck of a white man.
Avant reposted that video to his Instagram to show that there’s still plenty of work to be done.
View this post on Instagram
Right here in South Jersey! Don’t be naive! Some Posted @withregram • @stfuml This is what James J Demarco did while my brother @russy06 was peacefully protesting in Franklinville NJ. James works for @fedex so now I want to know does this employees behavior align with your company policy? #BLM #blacklivesmatter #blackouttuesday #icantbreathe #georgefloyd #justiceforgeorgefloyd #naacp #civilrights #breonnataylor #saytheirnames #racism #racist #repost
“There’s a lot of people calling for his job and all of those things,” Avant said. “That wasn’t my intent at all. My intent was to expose it so people that are unaware that these types of things are going on on a daily basis right near you.”
Where does Avant see it going from here?
“I think that having a conversation with our kids and to be advocates,” he said. “Let’s think about it, let’s not allow racist people to feel comfortable at all. So that’s three things we can do. We can educate ourselves, we can expose it, and we can make sure that we’re having conversations with our peers and our loved ones to make sure that they’re advocates for it.”
Watch the full interview with Avant below.