NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines this week after deciding to sit during the singing of the national anthem during the 49ers preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. And while UFC champion Tyron Woodley says he might not have taken those same steps, he can certainly understand where the quarterback is coming from.
Woodley and podcast co-host and former UFC fighter Din Thomas discussed Kaepernick’s protest on the latest episode of “The Morning Wood”, where they both agreed that more attention needed to be given to the issues Kaepernick addressed.
“I didn’t see it, I just read about afterwards.” Woodley said. “And I personally wouldn’t do that — I’m probably going to stand up and remove my hat and put my hand across my chest and be quiet until it’s over with. But I do think that people that don’t want to be honest, they want to sweep it under the rug, as if these injustices are not taking place — I have an issue with that. Because they are taking place. And I really think that as a society, we can’t just act like they’re not. That’s a part of the problem.
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“It’s been under the rug so long, but now with the new social media, people posting videos and just so much access to see what’s going on right now, it’s bringing up things, but it’s bringing up things that have been swept under the rug so many years. “
When asked about the decision to not stand during the anthem, Kaepernick expressed that he felt the country was not living up to the ideals in which it was built, and that African Americans are treated unfairly despite their decades-long fight for civil rights.
The quarterback brought up police brutality as one of the main issues causing a strain in the relationship between different segments of the country.
Woodley is actually from Ferguson, Missouri, a city that made national headlines two years ago after police killed an unarmed teenager, sparking protests in the area and across the country. Many residents of the city said that tension had been building for years and the incident was just the tipping point.
Woodley says that he related to Kaepernick’s statement because he too has experienced prejudice because of the color of his skin, and that even today, in 2016, he still has to deal with the racial tension in his home state.
“So I went to this restaurant today,” Woodley said after telling a story about being treated oddly at a Waffle House a couple weeks earlier. “And we’re sitting there, and they close at 2:30, which I understand. Now if we would have came in on some straight-up ninja stuff and walk in at 2:20 and they close in 10 minutes, I’d be looking crazy at myself as well. But, it was like a quarter to 2, and that’s still 45 minutes, we already knew what we wanted to eat, I didn’t think it was a big deal. So they just seemed really agitated. They didn’t come to see if wanted coffee or more water or we needed anything else or if I needed any condiments for the food I had ordered. And then I saw other guests that were there and they were extremely friendly [to them], laughing and joking, almost falling over the damn counter for them. And I’m like, wow, that’s kind of weird, I really don’t feel like very good customer service. But then when I started looking at it, it felt like the old diners from the old days, and I just hate feeling like that.”
Woodley isn’t alone in his experience either. His co-host, Thomas, responded by telling “The Chosen One” that those types of micro-aggressions happen to him so often that he doesn’t even think about it anymore and has accepted it as a part of his life.
However, now that Woodley is undisputed UFC champion, one would think that admiration he received from fans would outweigh the negative. But the 170-pound king says it’s been just the opposite.
“The last three weeks of my life, has been the complete opposite of what you think it would be.” Woodley said. “’You’re scared to fight this person you p****, you’re the Choosey One’, then I’ve had people call me [the N-word] and monkeys and all this racists stuff. And then I’ll delete the people, and they’ll create another page and go back at it.”
That is just one small example of the type of harassment Woodley and Kaepernick are saying is being disregarded today in America and that those with the ability to call out racism and prejudice for those that can’t, should continue doing so.
“Now, I’m paraphrasing, this is not his exact quote, but [Muhammad Ali] said that basically, I might lose a little bit of money, a couple people might be mad at me, but it’s worth me, being able to use my platform to impact, to inspire, to bring out blatant wrong and to be an activist for what is right. That I agree with 100 percent. Everything [Ali] did wasn’t by the book either, but I do agree with using your platform to impact change.”
Woodley would go on to express the importance of forgiveness and understanding different viewpoints. That, in the champion's eyes, would go a long way in improving relationships between people from different sides of the tracks.
“It’s those individuals that don’t realize [racism] is a problem because they haven’t been exposed to it and haven’t seen it firsthand. Some people are like, ‘Aw, that stuff doesn’t happen’ and they erase the thought that it can happen. And now it sounds like ‘Aw here they go again complaining and always the victim.’ And then it’s individuals that do know that it’s happening, and try to downplay it but they still want to have the same tone,” Woodley said “Let’s not be 100 percent insensitive and just act like these things are not happening, they’re happening.
“And guess what, I’m going back to that damn diner because they’re waffles was the bomb, and I’m going to give them another chance to prove to me maybe they were just having a bad day.”