CLEVELAND — Cleveland is a place where athletes speak their mind. From Jesse Owens to Jim Brown to LeBron James, some of our biggest legends have used their fame to call for social change. With a movement to end police brutality and balance racial injustices sweeping the nation, many athletes have taken this time to use their platforms to elevate the message, including, once again, athletes from Cleveland, who are expressing their support for change and sharing their stories of injustices experienced in their life outside of sports.
In a powerful response to an individual commenting on his Instagram post, Cleveland’s own UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic stood up against racial injustices.
On Tuesday, Miocic joined the social media movement to post a black square with the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday. Under his post, an Instagram user commented “I think you’ve forgotten most of your fanbase is white. It shows in the comments” to which Miocic responded his concern isn’t for his fan base for the betterment of the world.
Indians center fielder Delino DeShields shared an experience he had in 2012 while playing for the Houston Astros’ minor league affiliate. DeShields said the police were called after he and some of his friends were playing around, pretending to hit deep balls and a person across the street told officers they were threatening him with an object that appeared to be a sword. It was a bat—because they were playing baseball.
DeShields said a total of five cruisers pulled him over and forced his friends to exit the car and sit on the curb without asking for license or registration while he explained to officers what had happened. After learning DeShields’ identity, the outfielder said police came back and asked for his autograph.
“I’m sharing this story so people can have an inside viewpoint of what goes on in not just my life but majority of black America. This is REAL LIFE. This is MY LIFE,” DeShields wrote.
A personal story of my mine to give you guys some insight on what it’s like being me outside of my uniform. pic.twitter.com/ay4O53ADDz— Delino DeShields (@LinoDeShields) June 4, 2020
Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. sounded off on Twitter, voicing his frustration with the current events, stressing the importance of not retaliating with more violence and praying for change and resolutions.
IM FRUSTRATED. More so because I don’t even kno how to speak or comment on this issue that’s been goin on for so long. I hate feeling defeated as if the words I wanna say will@never be enough to stop what’s goin on. I’m Tired. People are losing brothers sisters daughters— Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) May 30, 2020
Losing fathers mothers aunties uncles etc.... VIOLENCE isn’t not the answer ... cops killing us is not the answer, us killin cops is not the answer. VIOLENCE WILL ONLY BRING MORE VIOLENCE— Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) May 30, 2020
God .... I’m praying that u can place your healin hand of grace upon this world . We NEED u right now more than ever. This has gotta end. Enough is enough. It’s that time— Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) May 30, 2020
At this point u either chose to be apart of the solution or you’ll remain a part of the problem. The chose is yours. But let’s make the right chose so our kids kids wont have to grow up in this world we’ve creaTed. I’m pray for PEACE. I pray for resolutions. I pray for NO MORE— Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) May 30, 2020
Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love announced measures he and the Kevin Love Foundation are taking in order to address inequality and racism and the changes needed to end them.
I need to do better. Our work and resources need to explicitly address the challenges and trauma caused by inequality and racism.
I know I need to make changes to my own organization and will do so immediately. We will start by creating a diverse advisory board to guide our work, we will partner with grassroots organizations that need our help most right now, and we will work alongside BIPOC-licensed therapists, and stand alongside communities of people that have been treated so unjustly for far too long.
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett took to Twitter, issuing a statement regarding the death of George Floyd and sharing the reminder of the reason behind Colin Kaepernick's movement to kneel before games.
"This has been years in the making and has led to a build up of emotions. People are fed up and are ready to have their voices HEARD. Heard by those who sit idly while this goes on and don't listen to the voices of the scarred," Garrett wrote.
Garrett also condemned looting and rioted sparked at demonstrations across the country by agitators while also condemning the continued use of police force on peaceful protesters at demonstrations.
Times are hard, but it’s gonna take everybody to make a change. pic.twitter.com/I9wpH7DvL4— Myles Garrett ⚡️ (@MylesLGarrett) May 31, 2020
Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger, like his teammate DeShields, took to Twitter and shared his experience of witnessing the discrimination his friends growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., faced.
Clevinger said that while it wasn’t to the “extent of killing everyday,” his friends were harassed daily, stopped and accused of stealing or selling drugs when walking home from playing basketball at night or walking to each others houses.
“We need to rise up, stick together and let’s protect our black community, maybe then everyone will start seeing the change you’re wanting to see,” Clevinger wrote.
Former Browns draft pick, NFL linebacker and current ESPN analyst Emmanuel Acho created a show to hold conversations about issues in the black community with white viewers to help facilitate a broader understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement and the current push against racial injustices across the county.
Acho said that one of the best ways to help support change and serve as an ally for the black community is to “let your guard down and listen."
Dear white people,— Emmanuel Acho (@thEMANacho) June 2, 2020
For days you’ve asked me what you can do to help. I’ve finally found an answer.
Let your guard down and listen. pic.twitter.com/74SVv8XOqp
Former Browns running back and return specialist Eric Metcalf shared the video, asking people to open their minds to the message being shared by Acho.
Powerful...Please open you minds to what is being said here!!! https://t.co/QpFD4XsLHO— Eric Metcalf (@EricMetcalf21) June 2, 2020
Cleveland athletes are voicing their experiences and using their platforms to incite change, but they are not alone. Players across the country have expressed and continue to express their views and pledge their support for movements intended to balance racial injustices.
Their voices and platforms are important for change and their philanthropic efforts certainly help as well. So while activists, political leaders and even your friends on social media speak out against the racial injustices plaguing our society, it’s important to remember that the athletes you cheer for—or against—are members of the same society and their identity stretches far and beyond that of just an athlete.
It’s always been Cleveland against the world.
Right now, the whole world is watching.