In the wake of DeSean Jackson's anti-Semitic posts on Instagram, Julian Edelman offered a message of "compassion, empathy and love" in a video share don social media. Edelman wanted to share his thoughts and his experiences as a Jewish man, and it is a must-watch.
"I know he said some ugly things, but I do see an opportunity to have a conversation. I'm proud of my Jewish heritage. For me, it's not just about religion. It's about a community and culture as well. I'm unusual because I didn't identify as Jewish until later in my life," Edelman said. "Whenever I encountered hatred, it never really felt like it was aimed at me. It was only after I was a part of this community that I learned how destructive hate is. Anti-Semitism is one of the oldest forms of hatred. It's rooted in ignorance and fear."
That ignorance and fear doesn't go away when these men step on the football field. Edelman recalled a game in 2011 where someone used a slur word against him, and moments like that are familiar to Black athletes, as well. Just last month, former outfielder Torii Hunter said he was called the N-word hundreds of times just an hour's drive away at Fenway Park.
Edelman made it clear that the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against anti-Semitism are not at odds. In fact, the struggles that both communities face have the same root: hate and ignorance.
"Even though we're talking about anti-Semitism, I don't want to distract from how important the Black Lives Matter movement is and how we stay behind it. I think the Black and Jewish communities have a lot of similarities. One unfortunate similarity is that they are both attacked by the ignorant and the hateful," Edelman said. "It's really hard to see the challenges the community can face when you're not part of it. So what we need to do is we need to listen, we need to learn, and we need act. We need to have those uncomfortable conversations if we're going to have real change."
At the end of the video, Edelman made an offer to have those uncomfortable conversations. Edelman invited Jackson to tour the Holocaust Museum in D.C., and afterwards, Jackson could take Edelman to the Museum of African American History. Over a meal, Edelman said, he and Jackson could have an honest talk. Learning and listening is the start of real understanding and change.
Watch Edelman's full statement in the video below.