The Nebraska Cornhuskers linebacker said he has received racially motivated backlash after he and two teammates knelt during the national anthem before Saturday’s game at Northwestern.
In a statement to reporters Monday, Rose-Ivey said he had been called the N-word on social media and threatened. Linebacker Mohamed Barry and defensive end DaiShon Neal knelt alongside Rose-Ivey during the anthem at Northwestern’s Ryan Field.
“Some believe DaiShon, Mohamed and myself should be kicked off the team or suspended, while some said we deserved to be lynched or shot like the other black people who have died recently,” Rose-Ivey said before collecting himself. “Another believed that since we didn’t want to stand for the anthem that we should be hung before the anthem at the next game.”
Rose-Ivey explained why he felt the duty to speak out for racial injustice and drew on his own experiences with racism, both before and after the protest Saturday, and more.
Watch the full video from Rose-Ivey’s lengthy statement, and read the complete transcript below:
First off, I want to say my name is Michael Rose-Ivey. I am a student-athlete at the University of Nebraska. First of all, I want to thank Coach (Mike) Riley, the administration, this university for allowing me to step out and speak on my beliefs on my own behalf. I want to thank you guys for being here to listen to me.
As everyone is aware, this past Saturday, before the game against Northwestern, DaiShon Neal, Mohamed Barry and myself kneeled in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and many other athletes across the country, both professional and non-professional, who are standing together to use their various platforms to bring awareness about police brutality and the recent deaths of black men and women at the hands of police officers.
While the anthem played, I prayed along with DaiShon and Mohamed, and we asked God to watch over us and protect us, to look down on this country with grace and mercy and to look down on all of us with grace and mercy. You see, we are not perfect beings, but as 2 Corinthians 3:5 says, “Not that we are sufficient in our own selves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.”
As we looked at what’s been going on in this country, the injustices that have been taking place primarily against people of color, we all realized that there is a systemic problem in America that needs to be addressed. We felt it was our duty to step up and join the chorus of athletes in the NFL, WNBA, college and high school using their platforms to highlight these issues.
We did this understanding the implications of these actions, but what we didn’t expect was the enormous amount of hateful, racially-motivated comments we received from friends, peers, fans, members of the media and others about the method of protest. While you may disagree with the method, these reactions further underscore the need for this protest and gives us just a small glimpse into the persistent problem of racism in this country and the divisive mentality of some Americans.
To make it clear, I am not anti-police, I am not anti-military, nor am I anti-American. I love my country deeply and I appreciate the freedoms it professes to afford me.
I have traveled outside of the United States, and I have seen how people live in other countries. I have seen it with my own eyes. And even though I have endured hardships as a kid, and didn’t grow up with the world in the palm of my hands, as a conscious being, I am able to recognize that there are people out there who are in a much worse position than I am. I find it very concerning how some of my fellow Americans cannot do the same when it comes to the issues we are talking about today.
Unfortunately, I cannot turn a blind eye to injustice. As Dr. (Martin Luther) King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. … The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict. … An individual who accepts evil without protesting against is really cooperating with it.”
So therefore, I believe it is my job, first as a man of faith, which teaches me “for what you do for the least of my brothers, you have done for me.” And secondly, as a young black man, who sees people who look like me being unfairly treated, who do not have the platform to let others know about these injustices that go on every single day. I feel I am obligated to stand up and bring awareness to the social injustices that are not limited to police brutality but also to the policies and laws that discriminage against and hinder the growth and opportunities of people of color, low-income people, women and other marginalized communities.
Again, there are issues in this country that need to be addressed. There are issues in this country that can no longer be pushed off onto the backs of another generation. For me, I look at it like this: do I want my kids to be a part of this and have to endure the same struggles that those came before me had to? No, I don’t. So it is my job to work to make this world a better place for the next generation.
It is disheartening to see the same social injustices that the likes of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur, Ghandi, W.E.B. DuBois, Susan B. Anthony, Nelson Mandela, Thurgood Marshall, Marcus Garvey, Huey P. Newton, Maya Angelou, Jackie Robinson and Muahamad Ali, amongst others, have spoken out about since the birth of this nation.
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 their reality, or the voices that continue to be ignored or muted, those who are continuously told 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., 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.