Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant shared his thoughts about racism in the United States in a series of posts on his Instagram account Monday, urging Americans to focus on "individual accountability" and to lead by example.
Shannon Sharpe responded to Bryant's posts on Tuesday's episode of "Undisputed" and explained that though he once thought along the same lines as Bryant earlier in his life, Bryant's overall message to black Americans is "horrifically wrong."
“I don’t have a problem with athletes speaking up, but I want to make sure before they speak up, they read up.
"I came from a very difficult background also. I think a lot of people know my story. My grandmother raised her nine kids and raised my mom’s three.
"And I thought a lot of the same lines earlier in my career that Dez is thinking. ‘I made it out, why can’t you?’
"And then one day while sitting alone, I started thinking. What about the person that didn’t have Mary Porter as a grandmother? What about the person that didn’t have grandparents?”
Kim KlementKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
“I think Dez’s heart was in a good place, but because he hasn’t read up enough on the race relationship and the history of racism in America, it came out totally wrong. Let me take it piece by piece, if I can, Skip. First of all he says he saw a person quote Charles Barkley.
"I’m going to say this. I have the utmost respect for Charles Barkley, he was a heck of a ballplayer. … When it comes to basketball, please quote Charles Barkley. But when itcomes to race in America? Please don’t quote Charles Barkley.
"What is happening, Dez, when you say personal accountability -- OK, so I’m supposed to hold me accountable for slavery? What about reconstruction? What about the Jim Crow South? What about segregation? What about the violation of my civil rights and my voting rights?
"So who do I hold accountable for that?”
Steve MitchellSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
“He also said that ‘instead of making videos of the history of racism, we’re one of the few races of people that everybody says ‘you need to get over your past. Slavery happened 400 years ago. You weren’t [a slave], your parents weren’t in slavery.’
"I have yet to hear a person tell a Jewish person, 'You weren’t in the Holocaust. Get over it.’
"…. It’s documented that the first African-American slaves arrived in the U.S. in 1619. It’s 2017, so in two years it’ll be 400 years [that] the first slaves arrived in America.
"So for 400 years, there’s been systemic, institutionalized bias perpetuated and perpetrated against a race of people.
"And Dez says, ‘You need to be accountable.’ Dez, I can’t get ahead if someone is constantly keeping me behind. Dez, we are not in [a] position… we don’t own TV stations, we don’t own radio stations. For the most part, we are not CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. So we can’t shift the dynamic of the hiring and firing practice that can lift a race of people up.”
Jasen VinloveJasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
“Do you understand what has transpired? And people thought because we had a two-term black president, President Obama, that 400 years of racism would be eradicated in eight years. Think about how long it took us to get to this point.
"And then he mentions some iconic figures. Dr. King. Rosa Parks. Malcolm X.
"Do you actually think they did what they did for themselves? Is that what you think? You think Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat because of her? She knew the ramifications.
"You think Dr. King lost his life just for himself? Malcolm X lost his life only for himself?
"Dez … there’s an incident that happened in 2011. He was issued a citation. He was at a mall with some of his friends. The police intervened and asked him to pull his pants up. So think about this, Dez. How long has that been in effect, where the police tell you to pull your pants up? They’re profiling you because they think ‘you, that’s the kind of criminal behavior …’
"They didn’t look at you as a Dallas Cowboy. They looked at you as any other young black man in America. That’s what you don’t get, Dez. So when you say ‘personal accountability,’ all you do is that you feed a certain segment of the population that says, ‘See, I told you. Dez Bryant said it. Charles Barkley said it.’
"Dez, you’re not even the 2 percent. You’re the .01 percent of black Americans that makes millions, but there’s so many that don’t. Dez, do you realize that you’re still black, [that] they still view you as black even though you catch touchdowns for the Dallas Cowboys? Do you realize that? You think they view you differently?
"They applaud what you do, Dez. They don’t applaud who you are. I commend you for changing, coming from where you came from. I commend him, but he is so wrong. He is so absolutely and horrifically wrong in this situation.”