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African American voices that carry

11 Min Read


African American voices that carry

    A thoughtful conversation with Commissioner Monahan and Varner III

    A compilation of African American viewpoints and excerpts from the golf community in the wake of George Floyd’s death:

    DARIUS RUCKER, musician and PGA TOUR ambassador, via Twitter.

    I have been sitting here trying to figure out what I wanted to say. This whole thing just really breaks me down to my core.

    My heart goes out to George Floyd, his family and friends, and to all of those whose loved ones have been taken because of the color of their skin. No man should die that way. I cannot watch that without tears welling in my eyes and a raw feeling of pain. The men who did that should face the justice that is promised by our laws.

    2020 has already been heartbreaking. Now, here we are having to again face the truth of racism and the pain and frustration of the African American community. As an American, a father, a son, a brother, a singer, a man … I have faced racism my whole life, from kindergarten to the life I live today. Racism is not a born thing; it is a taught thing. It is not a strong belief; it is a weak belief. It is not a financial issue; it is a hatred issue.

    Over the course of my life, I guess I had just put it down to “that’s just the way it is.” No, I know I had. It is no longer alright for me to perpetuate the myth that things are okay. I have kids whom I love and cherish, and to watch them go through this, to feel their anguish and anger trying to deal with this is heartbreaking for me. The question that keeps coming up is “will it ever change?’ And my answer now has to be “YES.”

    We have to come together somehow, y’all. The only way it will ever change is if we can change people’s hearts. I don’t know how we are going to make that happen, but I am ready to try everything we have to do, because we need to be better.

    The peaceful protesters out there are an extension of the legacy of the great Dr. King and Gandhi, and they are protesting to be heard. Take a moment and listen.

    I really hope that we get better as a nation. My request to you guys is to search your heart on behalf of all of us, and root out any fear, hate or division you have inside of you. We need to come together.

    We are not always going to agree on where to go or how to get get there, but I will end with this quote by James Baldwin: “We can disagree and still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and the right to exist.”

    HAROLD VARNER III, via Twitter.

    To whoever wants to listen, I have so much that I want to say. Matter of fact, I’ve received more messages than ever before, mostly from people who wanted me to speak up immediately because of who I am. I AM BLACK. But it’s not helpful to anyone when impulsive, passionate reaction takes precedence over clear-minded thought. Yes, I’m angry. But I needed the time to put pen to paper and give y’all a proper message. So let’s go.

    Here’s the obvious: George Floyd should still be alive. Absolutely. No doubt. End of story. This was a senseless killing—a murder—and, to me, it was evil incarnate.

    There are objective truths in life. I think that’s one of them. But life is more nuanced than just a simple statement, and if there’s one thing that is emblematic of today’s society, I think it’s that we constrict ourselves to single-minded thought. It’s easy to do. But that ain’t life. You can be against a cop savagely killing a man and also have the perspective to say that burning businesses and police stations is wrong. You may say one is more or less severe than the other, but there again we must allow ourselves to go beyond this one-or-the-other mentality. Otherwise, we get stuck. We lose direction. Sadly, I think the media exacerbate the situation—with whatever motives they have—by implicating one side of a complex story. I will never denounce an entire race or group based off of a singular incident. I cannot justify that. Yes, the cop acted in the most horrific of ways. No, not all cops are like that. Yes, people are rightly angry. No, we don’t need to loot to make our point. In my heart, I know we’re a good country filled with good people. It’s time we start recognizing that.

    Look, I grew up in Gastonia, N.C. I had nothing. No nice clothes, no lights, and, hell, sometimes no buck-fifty to eat lunch in high school. I bought my first pair of jeans when I was in college. And you know what? The people who pushed me to succeed were old white and black men at my local muni. They were the ones helping me with clothes, bills, and food. The white guys aren’t racist, and the black guys aren’t either. I would call myself lucky, but that’d be undermining everything I believe. I’m not insensitive to reality. I’m realistic about the innate good I see in people.

    I know how hard it is to build something. I know it, man. Seeing justice for George Floyd turn into destruction and theft of businesses owned by African Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics, and all other ethnicities is disgusting. I will always be behind all African Americans who are subjected to racism. I will also be behind other ethnicities in the same way. But I will never support an aggressive reaction, especially against those who have poured everything into opening this restaurant or that shop.

    Sometimes life is not simple and things don’t make sense. How can we call ourselves the greatest country on earth when our standards fall to senseless killing? That’s a tough an important question. But I still proudly say we aren’t as fractured as it seems.

    I see good people. I pray alongside them for George Floyd and his family. And I also pray for our unity. We’re strong. We can go beyond the trap of one-dimensional thinking. Once we do, our eyes will see the righteous, our hearts will feel the love, and we’ll have done more to honor all those subjected to evil and its vile nature.

    TIGER WOODS, via Twitter.

    My heart goes out to George Floyd, his loved ones and all of us who are hurting right now. I have always had the utmost respect for our law enforcement. They train so diligently to understand how, when and where to use force. The shocking tragedy clearly crossed that line. I remember the LA riots and learned that education is the best path forward. We can make our points without burning the very neighborhoods that we live in. I hope that through constructive, honest conversations we can build a safer, unified society.

    DAMON HACK, Golf Channel analyst, via Instagram.

    I am two years shy of 50, blessed and beaten down.

    Am I allowed to be both?

    Can I be a smiling face on your TV and a somber soul when the camera is off?

    Can I have laughter in the morning and tightness in my chest at night?

    Can I talk Tiger and also talk about being pulled over on a California highway and the Jersey Turnpike, speeding neither time? (“Do you have drugs or weapons in your vehicle?” “No, sir. I’m just driving home from my summer internship.” “Why am I being stopped, officer?” “Uh, there was a dog loose on the turnpike.”)

    Can I love my cousin (retired FBI) and my wife’s cousin (active NYPD) and hate being frisked in front of my own home as my Mom begins to raise her voice at the officer and I have to calm her down and tell her it’s OK?

    Can I shake my grandfather’s ghost stories when Emmett Till begats Amadou Diallo and Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and George Floyd?

    Can I wear my COVID-19 mask and avoid the look of fear in the cashier’s eyes that my shopping trip has nefarious intentions?

    Can I be thankful and horrified?

    Can I be exhausted?

    Can I?

    CHEYENNE WOODS, female professional golfer, via Golfweek (click here for full story).

    Just thinking about (George Floyd) again gives me goosebumps and chills. This is a tough reality of what’s going on in our country. It’s a storyline and it’s a tragedy that has happened way too many times in all of the history of society, but now again it’s being filmed and being broadcast on social media, so it is spreading.

    It’s confusing that it’s still happening. It’s frustrating to see people still defending or not quite understanding why people are so outraged. It’s sad to see and heartbreaking that that is a reality of black America, and to think about the conversations that you have to have with your children about police interactions or how to deal with being in society in general. Conversations about it are really difficult to have. You see it in the news, it’s hard to watch, hard to talk about. But it is the reality of what people deal with so it’s important to have these conversations.

    I think the older I’ve gotten the more I realize that I do have a very powerful platform as a female golfer, as a minority golfer and using that. I think as an athlete or a public figure, a lot of times you almost get forced to feel like you have to live middle-of-the-road and not go one way or another or say anything too extreme. But there comes a point where you have to have a voice and you have to speak on what matters to you because it does make a difference in people’s lives and can influence and spread a lot of positivity and change. … You see athletes like Lebron James and Steph Curry speak out about these issues and it’s very powerful to see somebody in that light have such a strong stance on something that matters to them. I think they are great role models in that sense of just truly having a voice.

    With my white friends or non-black friends, they are very empathetic to what’s going on. With my black friends though, it hits more personal. It hits closer to home because in every person that you see murdered, that could be my dad. That could be my cousin. In some instances, it could be me.

    SHEILA C. JOHNSON, owner of Innisbrook Golf Resort (home of the Valspar Championship), via Twitter.

    As a business woman, as an African American but mostly, as a black wife and mother, I find the current state of our country – and I do not use this world lightly – terrifying.

    I call on all good Americans, but in particularly our wives, mothers and sisters, to stay strong, to keep praying and working for peace, and to continue to use love, courage and their strong sense of family to build and rebuild the very same bridges others are trying to burn to the ground.”

    DEBERT COOK, publisher, African American Golfer’s Digest (full story).

    In solidarity with those seeking JUSTICE FOR GEORGE FLOYD and the countless victims of racism, injustice and systemic violence, I kneel and pray for the families and loved ones whose lives have been devastated. I send prayers to those at home, angry, frustrated, disgusted, heartbroken, and those who are courageously standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the front lines of protests across the world.

    I admonish our American leaders to take a stand and speak out against the injustices Black Americans continue to face in this country.

    As a direct descendent of an enslaved Black man who was bought, sold, and bred out to produce even more slaves for his master, I refuse to remain silent or stand idly by watching my Black brothers and sisters suffer.

    The system has to change. As such, I am donating funds to this organization and encourage you to do the same by clicking this .

    In the meantime be safe, stay vigilant.

    In Power.

    MAURICE ALLEN, first African American to win the World Long Drive championship, via Golf Digest ().

    If you’re reading this, it means we’re connected by golf. You may be wondering what you can do. We are vastly underrepresented. There are more of us than Tiger Woods and Harold Varner III. The participation rate of blacks in golf hasn’t changed since Tiger has come on the scene. That might not be your fault, but whatever you’re doing isn’t helping, either.

    Golf is supposed to be an accountable sport. You hit a bad shot, that’s on you. You break a rule, you call it on yourself. Stop making excuses or guessing someone’s intention. Start using that same accountability you apply to golf to racism, sexism and injustice. Ask your club what they are doing to recruit minorities. Call out your buddy making racial jokes on the course. Educate yourself on black foundations that aren’t just The First Tee. And, maybe, we might get to the other side.

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