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Organizations across the nation are dishing out statements denouncing racism and championing diversity in the wake of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Its been a tense couple of weeks for companies, employees, athletes and individuals as everyone tries to make sense of the current issues that are plaguing our society.
While there have been many statements from companies, the missing piece has been action. That is what members of the Washington Redskins’ organization have been focused on.
“Right here in our backyard, the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. there were massive protests, demonstrations outside of the White House and Pennsylvania Avenue was even transformed into Black Lives Matter Plaza,” said Coach Ron Rivera.
“I was proud of our community for joining together to condemn these societal issues that have faced our community for far too long. I was especially proud of two of our young players: Dwayne Haskins and Chase Young.”
Both Young and Haskins have showed up to lend their voices to the movement. Young took part in the call to action video demanding the NFL apologize for their part in systematic racism and the silencing of peaceful protests.
The video was led by New Orleans Saints’ wide receiver Michael Thomas and included numerous top players such as Tyrann Mathieu, Jamal Adams, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and more. NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell issued a video apology the next day.
Additionally, Haskins headed into D.C. last weekend to take part in the citywide protest and gain a better understanding of how he can make a difference.
“I feel like everybody in this day and age likes to just talk and I wanted to be about action, I wanted to go down there and be a part of the difference,” Haskins said. “I went down there and it was just a great experience. Just the energy and the atmosphere when you walk around people and how much you’re supporting the cause.”
The Redskins are also doing their part as an organization. Coach Rivera laid out a plan discussing their efforts to address racism from the inside out.
“I have been tasked with leading this entire organization and I have always believed in the mantra that actions speak louder than words,” Rivera said. “We have created a town hall program led by six members of our organization: Doug Williams, Dr. Monica Paige our team psychologist, our Senior Director of Player Personnel Malcolm Blacken, our Team Chaplain Pastor Brett Fuller, Coach Jennifer King who was formerly a police officer before shifting into the coaching world and Asa Winborne.”
“I’ve spoken at length with Mr. Snyder about these topics and he has agreed to kick start this program with a $250,000 donation,” Rivera added.
The team also started the Black Engagement Network (B.E.N.). This network will work to strengthen the Washington Redskins’ commitment to Black employees through professional development, career management, mentoring, networking, an inclusive work environment and community outreach. It will also strive to create an inter-cultural understanding of Black employees.
B.E.N. will work with organization executives and leadership to provide support, education and racial equality initiatives in communities across the Washington D.C. metro area where their employees live and work.
Lastly, Coach Rivera shared that if Redskins players decided to kneel, he would support it. This viewpoint isn’t surprising since Rivera was head coach of the Carolina Panthers when they signed Eric Reid. Reid has been one of Colin Kaepernick’s most vocal supporters and kneeled with him back in 2016 when they both played for the San Francisco 49ers.
Sometimes it’s not just enough to push out empty statements. People want to see actions alongside the words. The Redskins got it right with their response and support of the movement.