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Bears leaders speak out on protests, systemic racism, police violence

As protests over police violence and racism across America continue, several Bears players decided to vocalize their platforms.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In the wake of the recent murders of black men and women such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers, a tumultuous time has erupted across America. From coast to coast, citizen protests have spread across the country. Even friends across both adjacent ponds, including Great Britain, Germany, France, and New Zealand, among others, have organized vast demonstrations. A current moment that does not appear to be passing by with any sort of previous hand wave.

On Wednesday, with social tension and unrest continuing to unfold, several Bears leaders decided to use their public platforms to comment on the ongoing situation. They shared their experiences as black men, and formerly, as black children growing up in America. They verbalized their angers and frustration stemming from the past week, and recent years. In the end, each ultimately called for equality, for better.

First up was Allen Robinson. After winning the Bears’ annual Ed Block Courage Award, Robinson shared his perspective.

In regards to the protests in cities like Minneapolis, Louisville, and Chicago.

“The biggest thing is a group of people being past the threshold of just sitting back, being calm. A lot more positive has come out of this than negative. You do see some people being arrested. You do see some looting and things like that. But at the same time, there’s a lot of knowledge being spread and a lot of people opening their eyes and ears now to the things that are going on who may not have before. This isn’t something that just started going on. Dating back to the whole Colin Kaepernick thing — his whole thing was this. And even prior to that …. the Trayvon Martin thing happened when I was in college, and then here we are again about nine years later when something very similar happened. You see there’s a lot going on right now, but I think there’s been more positivity coming out of this than negativity.

The 25-year-old further highlighted Kaepernick’s original goals. The former San Francisco 49er had highly-publicized protests over police brutality while kneeling before games with the 49ers in 2016.

“That’s really what hurts a lot of people. When this was going on with a silent protest and when a stand was trying to be taken, it was completely hijacked by the wrong voices than actually what the ultimate agenda was. And now seeing people come out and kind of applaud him for what he was standing for, and that’s people across the league, across the country. From the inside looking out, that’s what it was (about) the whole time. … So I think that’s the most frustrating part of it. The league can come up with something to kind of reconcile that. When you see different people speaking on it, whether that’s team owners or league officials, they’re trying to figure out a way to definitely mend that bridge.”

Robinson’s solution for the country to the problem was not complicated.

“The biggest thing is, to some people who are heavily affected by it, who live in the inner cities of Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Oakland, St. Louis, any other cities that I’m forgetting, when they actually see something that’s being done that isn’t right, to say that isn’t right. When you see any kind of stereotypical being done or any kind of discrimination happening, everybody, if they continue to speak up and not be silent or not turn a blind eye to it, we’ll continue to make this world a better place.”

After Robinson left his conference call with reporters, Akiem Hicks joined the conversation on the protests. In the process, he added more of his personal insight that he gleaned from a young age. Hicks did not feel uncomfortable getting his passions off his chest.

This was especially in light of what sacrifices he made as a person then, and continues to make.

“At an early age, being not just a larger kid but a larger black kid, I was seen as the antagonist in a lot of situations. I was seen as the bully. I was seen as the person that — just not in the best light. Developing my mindset going forward, I always understood that I had to make people comfortable for myself. I’m going to continue to do that. I’m going to continue to make sure people comfortable around me. Is it unfortunate that I have to live that way? Call it what you want, but I do because that’s how I’m able to move through society and have people feel okay with me.”

Initial reactions to Kaepernick’s protests did not surprise Hicks. They demonstrated something else about the NFL, and the Bears. He was forthright about the distinction.

“All I will say is this: We saw it. We watched how it unfolded. And we see that he doesn’t have a job now. This call isn’t to advocate for ‘Kaep’ getting a job, but he did sacrifice his position for where he is now. His career was ended because of it, in my opinion. We signed Mike Glennon.”

When later asked to clarify his sentiments about the former Bears quarterback signed in 2017, Hicks recognized he was airing out a host of disappointments.

“You heard that, huh? Yeah, I said that. It was a feeling.”

After seeing Kaepernick’s situation play out in the open over the past few years, the 30-year-old expressed a plea for meaningful change from the status quo.

“I had the same thought that 85-90 percent of the league felt at that moment: If I get down on one knee in front of this stadium, I am fired; My job, my life, my career is over; I will be blackballed,” he said. “And then, to come out on the other end and watch it actually happen to Kaepernick just tells me that my feelings were real. It was the reality, and hopefully it won’t be going forward.”

To round out the afternoon, veteran Danny Trevathan maximized his time.

Like his teammates, Trevathan saw what happened to Kaepernick during and after his protests. Passionate frustrations on the matter were evident.

“Same thing that is happening today was happening three years ago. Let’s just be honest. When you have people that have been through so much, you get built up. There are different stages of emotion. There are different stages of anger. You can only take so much just to want to be heard, just to want to be seen, just to want to be felt. You can only take so much as people. You can only take so much.”

Trevathan knows Kaepernick’s intentions with his message, especially by painting them as non-patriotic, were twisted.

“I got people in my family that fought for America. It wasn’t about that. It was about something bigger than that issue. It’s about police brutality, the way they treat people.”

It was then that Trevathan’s feelings about growing up as a black child with his mother rang with a sobering truth. An undertaking only a few can say they understand.

She would kiss him every morning before he left their home, filling him with humiliation. Trevathan didn’t know what these displays of affection meant until he became an adult. He finally comprehended what those individual moments actually entailed.

“Now I see the reason behind it. She feared I would never come back home to her.”

Editor’s note: Protests concerning racism, police brutality, and other such related matters are subjects that require sensitivity and care. This is a reminder to please express yourself respectfully while also exercising common courtesy in interactions with one another in the comments. We are a small-corner-of-the-Internet family that should be able to have civil discussion. All WCG commentary guidelines remain in effect and apply especially.