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Super Bowl Champ Benjamin Watson’s Racially Charged Facebook Post

Football is historically a game of opposition and struggle. A snap shot of life, often reflecting the larger culture - and with it - issues of racism.

New Orleans Saints Tight End Benjamin Watson says, “The amazing thing about a football team is we can disagree and fight like brothers, but then we come back together. We are able to be open and honest about things that may offend us. A great opportunity to get past what somebody looks like. And then when we leave there and kind of go back into the real world, and have to deal with these different issues.”

Benjamin and his Saints played in a Monday Night game. He then went home and watched the aftermath of a Grand Jury’s decision to acquit the white police officer who fatally shot a black teen. Violence ensued. Benjamin recalls, “You just have a hard time grasping, what do I really feel, where do I fit in that, so something this big that had such build up and is so intense and so loaded, historically there’s so many layers of emotion. White people think one thing and black people think another thing about the same event. And we automatically, before we really know what happened, kind of pick our sides.”

The following day, the 11-year NFL veteran conveyed his feelings through a Facebook post that went viral! Applauded for standing transparent and objective, Benjamin was in demand for news shows and articles. So what are they most responding to?  Benjamin answers: “Honestly, I had teammates, black, white, coaches, people of all walks of life say you know what, that’s how I felt but I just couldn’t put it into words.”

Twelve words that continue to resonate loudly. For Benjamin, three that feel most deeply, saying, “I was angry! As a black American, there’s a history of injustice from my grandfather and my father and my great grandfather. You see something happen like this, you automatically bring back the history, and in many cases, the present, and you see things through that lens. So as a black man, I carry that.”

“Secondly, after the anger I had some introspection. Am I any better than the white people I point the finger at, if I’m coming into this with preconceived notions about what happened when I don’t really know what happened? Is that right of me to do? Is that what God would have me to do? You’re no better than anybody else who’s prejudiced if you’re holding those same feelings towards someone else. I think this event kind of brought that out.”

“Lastly, I’m encouraged. I’m encouraged because the Gospel gives us hope. Christ changes who we are on the inside and transforms our heart so that we can love other people that don’t look like us. And I’m encouraged because I see progress in this country racially. And it’s foolish for us to say there’s been no progress! 150 years since slavery ended, a lot of those feelings are still fresh. But we’ve made tremendous progress.”

Tom Buehring, CBN Sports Reporter, at the Superdome: “While making a career inside NFL sidelines like these, Benjamin also showed strength and finesse outside them – in his 12-paragraph post – building to a bold, bottom line – a game-changer – calling out racial divide as more than skin deep.” 

“The skin is a very small part of who we are. Under a microscope, your skin is the same it’s just the amount of melanin. Racism is simply a symptom of sin. And sin is the foundation. Sin is something that we’re all born with. So I have the propensity to be racist, to be prejudiced, to hate other people. I have the propensity to do all those things. I think the response was so great because I’m saying that look I need the blood of Christ too.”

How does he think hatred is broken? Benjamin says, “Hatred is broken by love. And love is an action. Reaching out to people of other races, even if it’s not comfortable. And it’s also through forgiveness. There’s a lot of freedom in that. Unforgiveness really holds you, really punishes the one who is not forgiving. As a black man I can’t grow, as the black community we can’t grow until we’re able to forgive. Now it doesn’t mean that what the other people did was right. But it doesn’t mean you can’t forgive.”

What is most misunderstood about our American Black Community? Benjamin believes, “That we are not all the same. And I feel like sometimes we are painted with a large brush and it’s usually negative. We don’t want to be suspected of doing something wrong. As a black man I feel like you are constantly trying to prove that you are not what you think people expect you are. And that’s a tough burden to carry.”

It’s a burden Ben and his wife Kirsten want to ease for their four young children as they grow up. Benjamin explains, “If you talk to any black person they’re going to have an experience when they found out they were black (chuckle) because you don’t know for a little while – you’re just – you’re just living. You’re a kid! We teach them the importance of caring for and loving people individually and that their worth as a person is in who God sees them, not in how somebody else views them so they understand their true identity, so that when that time comes, and it will come, when they understand that they’re a minority and what all that stuff means, they’ll be able to weather the storm.”

Benjamin the husband, dad, minister’s son and NFL teammate believes the church has an opportunity and responsibility, adding, “We need to reconcile in the church. Because we’re the ones that should understand it! We’re the ones that have been saved by grace. We’re the ones that understand what it means to love unconditionally. We’re the ones to understand forgiveness. That people are created in God’s image. And we’re the ones that are supposed to demonstrate that to the world.”

“I know who I am because of Him. I’m sinful and I needed a Savior. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. I’m sinful and I needed a Savior. We should reach out across racial lines that we see people, that we see people, see their soul and not just their flesh. Jesus teaches that I will transform your heart. Where is your heart? Can you forgive because your heart has been changed?”

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