On Saturday, three Nebraska Cornhuskers players — Michael Rose-Ivey, Mohamed Barry, and DaiShon Neal — took a knee during the national anthem before their game against Northwestern, showing solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and his protest against police brutality and systemic racism in the U.S. It was a gesture that Rose-Ivey discussed with his team the day before, and many of his teammates wholeheartedly supported it.
As with many athletes who have protested in recent weeks, including players for two other Big Ten teams on Saturday, the three players received backlash for their protest, which they expected. But during a press conference on Monday, Rose-Ivey discussed how disturbing the response was:
Nebraska's Michael Rose-Ivey with a powerful statement in today's press conference. Says fans told him he should "be hung before the anthem" pic.twitter.com/NJjEMnUYhd— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) September 26, 2016
"As a young, black man, I cannot hide from these realities. As a child of the most high, I cannot hide from my responsibilities to be a voice for those who cannot speak loud enough to reach those that can help change the reality, or the voices that continue to be ignored or muted ... those who are continuously told that it is their fault that their problems exist, that only if they do better, then they will have better, that if you just pull up your pants etc., etc., you can fill in your own 'What if?' but it's not so simple. It's not so clear.
I can say that with confidence, because even though I have done better, even though I am a college graduate, even though I am blessed and fortunate to play college football at the highest level, and at one of the most prestigious schools in college football, even though I am a healthy being, and even though I am fully conscious, I have still endured racism. I was still referred to Facebook and Twitter as a clueless, confused n***er, by former high school classmates, friends, peers, and even Husker fans. Some believe DaiShon, Mohamed, and myself should be kicked off the team or suspended, while some say we deserve to be lynched or shot, just like the other black people that have died recently. Another believe that, since we didn't want to stand for the anthem, then we should be hung before the anthem for the next game.
These are actual statements we received from fans."
Rose-Ivey was understandably upset when he was giving this statement, when he was relaying the horrifying, racist messages he and his teammates got over the weekend. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating to see what he and countless other black people have gone through.
It’s clear that the racist backlash has Rose-Ivey concerned, but it’s also clear it’s not going to stop him, his teammates, or other athletes from protesting the national anthem. Things like this don’t scare them into silence, they only empower them to keep going. As they should.
You can watch his statement in full here: