Ryan Clark: The Fact That We're Different Shouldn't Keep America From Loving Us

Ryan Clark
Ryan Clark /

Ryan Clark discussed the past week of protests, riots, and civil unrest on Get Up Tuesday morning. He touched upon his experience as a black man growing up in Louisiana, having a child with a white woman, and what it's like raising black children in this America.

He also expressed his frustration that, while he's glad the killing of George Floyd is getting the outrage and anger it deserves, this isn't the first time this has happened. And if we all want it to be the last, we need to be different. It starts by understanding that just because black people are different from white people shouldn't change anything at all.

"I think the conversations have been different this time. I know for sure my phone has rang and my text messages have beeped with non-blacks reaching out to me to let me know that they're listening, to let me know that they're a part of trying to find a solution, or at least a part of caring. It definitely makes me wonder why. Why now? Eric Gardner, he couldn't breathe either. Breanna Taylor, she wasn't even in a position to defend herself in her own home. Whereas you are, I guess, excited or at least sort of starting to feel a little comfort in the fact that other people are listening, it's still extremely difficult... Now, I think it's about trying to find a solution moving forward, about people actually listening and putting those things they learned into action. "

Clark on how he was treated differently by his white girlfriend's family once they found out the two would have a child together:

"I grew up in New Orleans. I grew up in the South. I was a 19-year-old black kid who had a child with a white woman. That family seemed to love me. They loved the fact that I played ball, that I was extremely intelligent. But I remember the first conversation once we found out we were having this child. I was no longer this great athlete, I was no longer this straight-A student, I was this N-word from down the street who played football who wouldn't take care of his child. I remember, two years later going to pick up Jaden from her grandparents' house, and her grandfather running after me to apologize to me. Because he didn't know. He passed shortly after, but if he never had that experience with me, to him black people were never good enough to be a part of their family. I was good enough to live down the street, I was good enough to watch, play ball, but I wasn't good enough to be a part of their family. Now, moving on, raising this child in the house with my African-American wife, my other two children, they're all the same to me. I treat them all the exact same way. My daughter being half of something that I'm not doesn't keep me from loving her. That's what we want from America, right? The fact that we're different shouldn't keep you from loving us."

Clark then touched upon how difficult it is to change things, because change comes from the top. And no matter what industry it is, the top usually consists of white people who don't have the motivation black people do to make that change. This extends to ESPN, as Clark explained that he was told where he was allowed to go in his speech this morning and where he should stay away from.

"We have all this systematic outrage, this institutional outrage, which is not run by us. When I got an opportunity to talk this morning, I was told, don't say this or you can't say that or it's cool to be in this place but you can't be here. Because we don't make the rules. When you don't make the rules, you can't make the change."

Clark finished his monologue by addressing those who are asking him how they can help make things change.

"If we want to change stuff, we got to change how we deal with it. You can't tell us how to grieve. You can't tell us that you can be this mad but you can't be that mad, because you ain't dying. I do feel better that people are listening, it still ain't better for us... I just hope that now, moving forward, the next thing isn't, 'Black people shouldn't do this. Why are you so angry?' Hopefully now, since they are listening, since you tell me you're listening, you listened enough to know why we're pissed off."

Powerful words from Clark, and words we should all keep in mind, not just in this time of protests, but for the foreseeable future until things truly change for the better.