Lorenzo Alexander: We all need to hold each other accountable for racism

Chris Lingebach
June 02, 2020 - 1:10 pm

Lorenzo Alexander was patient, allowing calmness to return when thinking of how he'd addressed the horrific death of George Floyd.

That patience is something he's learned over his 13 NFL seasons and 37 years on this planet.

"It always goes to family first. I'm a man, I'm a person that's become a former football player, I'm a husband, I'm a father," Alexander said Tuesday on 106.7 The Fan. "And so any time that I am going to say something or going to be in the community or put myself out there, I'm thinking about how it's going to impact my kids, how it's going to impact my family.

"And then is it going to be beneficial? Or is it going to be hard for us? As I've gotten older and more mature, I think I've learned to be patient, to gather my thoughts, to focus that emotional roller coaster process, especially when something so tragic happens once again."

"And how do I deal with it in the proper way and try to be strong for my family and for my community," he said ."That's where it all begins for me."

The question that comes next is what all of America is – or should be – grappling with: How do we stop this from happening again?

"From there, I'm trying to reach out to people that I've built relationships with because of the NFL and life, whether you're an officer, maybe a political figure, friends and family that I trust and respect their opinion, and trying to come to a way where we can ultimately find a solution to this," Alexander said.

"And it's hard, right, because it's such a complex, overlapping issue in that you can boil down to where it starts," he said, "but how do you correct and how do you change ultimately hearts at the end of the day, which is the hardest thing to convince somebody when they believe something is so true, or people have really set on hatred and bigotry for a long part of their lives.

"And so how do you change that perspective? Outside of really having a relationship with them, which is hard to create in the first place. It's going to take a lot."

Don't confuse Alexander acknowledging the challenge in the road ahead for not knowing the way. He knows exactly how he plans to attack racism in America and has suggestions for how others can do the same.

"Obviously we're going to start with some of the systems that have been out there, that create a disparity in many cultures or communities," he said. "Whether that's education, whether that's the legal system, legislation and how it's applied, district attorneys and how they apply the law to people. There's so many aspects that we can attack."

"I'm trying to be a part of it," Alexander said. "And I would encourage other people to maybe identify, based on maybe your skill set or your passion, to maybe just partner with organizations that are already doing great work, and utilize your platform, your relationships – you know, white, brown, Latino, whatever you are – and really come.

"Because at the end of the day, it's about human beings loving on human beings. And obviously our skin colors are different, but that's I think one of the beautiful things about us, that we don't all look the same. And so utilizing our own experience to help everyone else that can't have a voice or can't speak."

"And that's what I try to do and that's what I've always tried to do – through the social justice initiative with the Bills, through my own foundation – have always tried to serve the community," he said. "And now I think it's time for me to maybe even go a step further and really challenge some of these systems and people that are in power, to really uphold the oath that they've sworn in making sure that all people...

"You know, we say 'all lives matter,' and people get upset when you say 'black lives.' That's because black lives aren't valued as much as white lives, and that's just the honest truth. People can argue up and down, but that's the reality for a lot of people. I'm even faced with that and I live in Paradise Valley (Ariz.)."

"I've done a lot of great things, and if you know me, I'm not seen as a threat," he said. "But if you don't know me, you see this big, black dude walking down the street, Mmm... Do I need to cross the street? Do I need to keep my eyes on him? Do I need to pull him over?"

"And the same thing goes for my sons that I have," Alexander said, his voice beginning to quiver. "And it's fearful, it's saddening. I'm even getting emotional again just thinking about it."

"So it's just crazy where we're at," he continued. "But it's going to take a collective force of people consistently and being intentional about changing the plight that we're currently in, and holding your friends accountable for even the smallest racial remark. And that's for me too, black folks being built in anger as well."

"I mean, hold people accountable," he said. "Because that little bit of root grows into a George Floyd, an Ahmaud Arbery, a Tamir Rice, all the people that have – and the people that we don't even know about – that have been subjected to essentially being lynched, at its core, because of bigotry and racism."