“Silence Can Be Deafening”: White People Should Follow the Example Ryan Saunders Has Set

After George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police, Minnesota Timberwolves Head Coach Ryan Saunders took an important approach that every white person should follow.

“I am a white male in a position of leadership, and I don’t take lightly the fact that I have not experienced some of these things that our individual guys have had to experience. So I wanted to make sure we were listeners, that we could become more educated as people completely inexperienced in never getting the benefit of the doubt. I grew up in Minnesota and this hasn’t been sitting well with me for the past two days. Sometimes the silence can be deafening too. When we’re given opportunity to speak on what’s right, I think it’s important to do that.”- Ryan Saunders

Saunders got on a group call with all of his players and coaches and did something very important. He just listened. Saunders sat back throughout the open dialogue, listening to the experiences his African American players and coaches have had with police officers.

Saunders’ assistant coach David Vanterpool is a 47 year old African American man who expressed that he literally trembles and fears for his life when a cop stops him. While on the call, Vanterpool listened to the players experiences and just nodded saying “alarming to some, but not strange at all to a lot of us” according to ESPN.

Another person on the call was Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley. Beasley spoke about the murder of Floyd saying “There were three other cops, why weren’t they helping?”

That is a feeling most of us have. I want to believe that the people we entrust to be cops and protect us are good at heart and at their job. But when we constantly see cops be terrible at both, and others stand by and watch, how are we supposed to paint any officers in good light. In essence, do better.

Saunders told ESPN that understanding the plight of young African American men is a requirement to ending the carnage we see. Saunders also wanted to let his team know that he is aware of his own privileges, of growing up white, coming form a family with money. His players definitely appreciated his efforts and willingness to understand.

“He wanted us to feel his presence on this, even if he isn’t African American,” Beasley said. “He didn’t try to force it. It was genuine.”

In the end, that is all anyone is asking of you. Listen. Hear their cries and fears. Understand that you have a privilege. Understand that you can stand with them. And understand that your silence is deadly.

Justice will not be served until those unaffected are as outraged as those who are.- Ben Franklin

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