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Brandon Copeland poses challenge to media: hold each other accountable

Brandon Copeland challenges media members to hold themselves accountable in their storytelling. 

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I've worked extremely hard to put myself in position to help my family, my community and (most importantly to me) my son (and future children) have an amazing opportunity in this country. As a parent, I understand that @lilbcope will endure some necessary growing pains, but my entire life's work has been to prevent him from having to learn certain things from firsthand experience.⁣⁣ ⁣ Today, despite the positive perspective and outlook I keep on life, I am hopeless. I wonder what is the point of it all? ⁣ Because there are some realities of our country that I can do my best to prepare him for, but ultimately I have no control over. ⁣ I have to pray that: ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ - b/c he decides to wear a hoodie one day...someone with a gun and a point to prove doesn't view him as threatening enough to approach him and take his life ... (and the "justice" system allows him to walk free)⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ - Or b/c he decides to take a mid day jog...some fake a$$ vigilante(s) with ill intentions dont gun him down and get a, "hey it's okay, you must have been protecting the neighborhood", pat on the back. The "justice" system allows these vigilantes to sit at home, free for a month and a half, until the video is released (emphasis here b/c if it was not released then these men would be free right now), the public finds out and is outraged causing the " justice " system to react the way it should have in the first place⁣!!! ⁣ ⁣ ⁣⁣ If you still do not understand the problem, look no further than the video of an armed 17 year old white man walking past police officers with an AR-15. Immediately after murdering two people and shooting another. He even touched his gun to move it from his front to his side as he put his hands back up. The police rolled past him - seeing no threat to their safety, to the extremely dangerous unarmed protestors, majority of which were of my skin tone.⁣ ⁣NEWS FLASH: We're NOT exaggerating about our experiences⁣ ⁣ To everyone pushing for equality in whatever role you have - protesting, registering people to vote, at work, in your community or league. I salute you and am proud as hell to continue playing my role in this battle with you.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Always with LOVE ✊🏾 ⁣⁣ COPE

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Every week, Patriots players are asked question after question by the New England media cohort, but on Friday afternoon, Brandon Copeland asked something of the reporters on his video conference call – something they could do for his son and children like him.

Hold each other accountable and be mindful of the stories they tell.

As the country reels and the collective focus shifts to racism, police brutality and inequality, Copeland said he has been paying particular attention to how stories are told, how Black people are portrayed in everything from movies to the evening news.

"You look at TV, and you just see Black people in roles of drug dealer and robber and villain, and all of these types of things. Obviously, you guys don't control that," Copeland said. "But I personally have taken this time, especially after George Floyd's murder, and I've literally flipped through different news channels that I typically wouldn't watch. I watched how the same input produces two totally different outputs. If there's one thing I could ask of you all, which I know none of you asked for my opinion on this, but it's just hold each other accountable."

Copeland pointed to the 2020 NFL Draft as a different example. As men were being selected, the broadcast showed pictures from their lives, shots of their families, and while it should be a night of celebration, the anecdotes often turned to what personal obstacles each draft pick has faced.

It was a topic of conversation during and after the weekend, but Copeland said this kind of tragedy gawking harms Black folks in particular.

"You see these young men being drafted on what should be one of the best days of their lives and then all you see is the bullet points next to their name talking about how their dad was a crackhead. Their brother was shot and killed or is in jail or some random stuff, as opposed to highlighting the human that they are, right," he said. "Now, you've got millions of viewers looking at that and just thinking that every Black man is some broken story, so to speak."

If stories have power to convey a message or a viewpoint, then those who hold the pen are also in control to an extent.

"I just think you guys have a tremendous amount of power, as you know," Copeland said. "You have a tremendous platform, as you know. I think you that if I could ask anything on behalf of my son, it's just you guys holding each other accountable and the industry accountable."

Copeland is the father of a 13-month-old son, and while he said people find him adorable right now, he knows there will be a shift because of the color of his skin. He knows it will turn from his son being perceived as a cute, young boy to being perceived as a threat by some simply because he is Black.

"The problem is with the things that have been going on in this world and have been going on in this world, there are certain things I can't coach my son through. I can try to prepare him for these situations and have the talk with him and multiple talks with him, but ultimately, how do you explain to a young a kid," Copeland said. "Obviously, I'm biased. He's a beautiful young kid, young boy, but years from now unfortunately, some people will look at him as a threat just because of the color of his skin, right? Not having known or even having met him or understanding his heart at all. How do you tell him, 'Hey, don't wear a hoodie because someone might take you as a threat? Don't go for a jog because some random vigilante might think that you're a threat and take your life.'"

In that vein, Copeland said he knows there isn't one solution for a problem as large and enduring as racism, sharing a similar sentiment as Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty and James White. However, there are avenues where individuals can influence change that will, hopefully, grow beyond just a single person into foundational change.

"This issue is very, very overwhelming at times because it's like where do we start? Where do we finish? There's no one answer to solving equality and these issues in our country. There's no one answer to make it happen, but I think there are multiple layers that can ultimately help us achieve this over time," Copeland said. "One of those pillars would be media and the depictions of people. I think if we all focus on what we can do to improve our specific lanes, our specific roles, then we have a chance of reaching that goal of equality."

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