Racial tensions in our country are running high in the aftermath of the horrific incident in Minneapolis that led to the death of George Floyd. Protests, riots and looting have become commonplace throughout the week in many of most notable cities, including Boston.
Most professional teams – the Patriots among them – have expressed outrage over the racism and social inequalities that continue to haunt our nation. Many of the individuals on those teams have also chosen to have their voices heard in recent days.
Cornerback Joejuan Williams chose his words carefully when he was asked about the social unrest going on throughout the nation, and the youngster's message resonated.
"I'm happy to see that there's a huge growing awareness toward this issue that we're facing with black people in America," he said. "Through different policies there's an obvious gap, an obvious inequality with black people in America. I would advise everyone that is seeing this I would say have those hard conversations with your family and sit and talk about the racial issues that are going on.
"If you don't know the history in America toward black people, educate yourself and read different things just to gain that knowledge on the racism and oppression and have a conversation with your family members or other people because it needs to be known and spread and it shouldn't be an issue everyone is in the dark about.
"I'm glad to see there's been a growing awareness on it because it's been too long where black people have been put down and treated unequally. There are different ways to contribute – like jail funds for protesters – there's so many things you can do. But definitely first get informed on what's happening.
"At the end of the day racism is taught. You're not born with it."
Williams wasn't the only Patriot to get involved. Devin and Jason McCourty have been outspoken on a variety of topics involving social justice, and recently many others entered the fray as well.
"It's affecting everybody right now," John Simon said. "I was talking to some of our linebackers the other day, and I usually don't say anything that might upset in-house but this is something much bigger than football. All I can do is try to understand. Being a white male it's tough for me to fully understand. I can try to listen to the best of my abilities and understand and help in any way I can. I just wanted them to know that they're not alone.
"You see all this media and a lot of the times you see a lot of the negative media and I just thought a lot of my teammates might feel alone in this fight and I just wanted them to know that there are people out there that love them, that are on their side and will fight for them. I'm here for you, I'm here to listen and I'm here to understand in any way that I can."
Veteran running back Brandon Bolden has always had a respected voice inside the Gillette Stadium locker room so it came as no surprise that he offered some valuable words as well.
"These issues have impacted me a great deal," Bolden said. "It's to a point now where I can't even be selfish and say it's just me because I have three children and I'm raising a young man myself. It's very hard to explain not only what's going on but what emotions that he can and can't feel. It's not right. It's very frustrating being this isn't the first, second, third time let alone in the past decade but not the second, third time this year. For it to be televised people are just angry. People want justice. They want justice served.
"That's what you're getting. You're getting frustration from many, many, many years of oppression, deaths, people having to explain to their kids why stuff like this keeps happening. It's more fear for their kids than anything else. It's not about what they feel it's about what we're leaving behind for the future.
"I honestly feel if we can come together and have a conversation on why the justice system didn't move as swiftly as it does in other cases maybe that will calm a few people down. But for the most part it's been going on too long with too many things unanswered. It's not just here it's around the world. It's protests everywhere now. Everyone is tired of hearing the same thing, seeing the same thing, feeling the same thing. It just has to stop."
Newcomer Adrian Phillips feels the need to help out in any way he can as a professional football player.
"It's definitely hit home. It's been tough. I have a lot of emotions," Phillips said. "Me and my wife are hurt, sad and overall angry. What's been going on in the world and specifically in our nation, it takes a toll on you to the point where you get emotionally drained. The first thing you do is check the media outlets to see what happened. You're on your phone 24/7 to see who's been hurt or how someone else has been affected.
"It's my duty to use my platform to speak out against social injustice and inequality and I would be doing a disservice to my people and my community and everyone around the world if I didn't use my platform to step up and take action. Any way that I can help, doing interviews, follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and you'll see ways that you can donate and ways that you can help the cause. It's hurts a lot."