Big E recently sat down with The Sports Bubble with Jensen Karp podcast to not only talk about his work in the ring but also outside of the ring with his and The New Day’s social activism. Big E talked about how the George Floyd killing had a deep effect on him, and he spoke on his own personal experience talking about police brutality with his friends.
“The stuff with George Floyd and the aftermath really weighed so heavy on me,” Big E admitted. “And for the three of us [The New Day], we don’t have the answers, but we want it to speak to our experiences. So many of my friends, young black men who have bad histories of being pulled over by police, of being harassed by police, of being unjustly stopped. This is something that we’ve talked about.
“Especially now, so many of my friends have kids now, and the talk usually is the birds and the bees and talking to your kids about sex, but for so many black men and women, their talk to their kids is about how to act when you’re pulled over by police, because you don’t know what can happen. If you don’t follow the letter of everything, they say, you fear that your child can be unjustly killed. And even if they do follow every single thing they’re told, you never know. So, that’s a big part of what it means to raise a black child. And that’s scary and that’s frightening and that’s sad.”
Big E spoke more on his personal experience with the police talking about an incident where an officer had pulled a gun on him with the belief that he had a gun in his car. Big E did not, but he talked about how that experience has affected him.
“And you know, even me, like I got pulled over, I never got into any trouble, never had any issues with the law, but I’m in college,” Big E revealed. “It was a group of us. We had this youth leadership program. We all played college football at Iowa, and someone said that we had a gun in the car and called the cops, and we didn’t have a gun in the car, but we got pulled over. I had a gun pulled on me by a cop.
“And who knows like how that could have gone. To have a gun, a few inches from your face, and I’ve done nothing wrong. And this happens time and time again. So, for us, it’s very frustrating. It’s very sad. And, I found the George Floyd news really, really weighed heavy on me and something it was at the forefront of my mind for days and days.”
After the George Floyd killing, Big E admitted that he did feel hopeless about the situation. He said that he wanted to at least have a conversation, and he spoke on the feedback The New Day have received after their podcast.
“Over a week, I’m thinking about it,” Big E said. “And for me, I kind of felt some hopelessness, but I didn’t want to just use my anger and frustration and do nothing. I wanted to at least have a conversation and it’s been nice man.
“We’ve had so much feedback from different people who reached out and said, ‘man, I didn’t consider these things until I listened to your podcast [The New Day podcast], and I learned something or I heard a perspective I’d never heard before and thank you.’ And you know, I’m not going to presume to say we have all the answers or any answers, but we just wanted to speak to our experiences, to not be preaching, to not tell people how to feel or what to believe, but to tell you how we feel to tell you our experiences, to tell you the experiences of our black friends and what they go through and the things that are in their minds when it comes to being pulled over by police.”
Big E said that they are just trying to spread awareness about these issues. He said he hopes that these conversations can help build a more equitable world.
“So, a lot of what we’ve done recently is trying to raise awareness,” Big E noted. “And, you know, sometimes I really think, I don’t know the power or the purpose sometimes of a tweet or an Instagram post. And sometimes I wonder, am I just screaming into a void or patting myself on the back when I post something and feeling like I’ve done something and that’s not.
“I wanted to make sure that it came from a good place, a place of actually wanting to help make our country and our society more equitable. I wanted to make sure it came from a place of, not self-aggrandizement, but a place of wanting to actually see a better world.”
One way The New Day have have sought to raise awareness was taking a knee before their match on an episode of SmackDown in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Big E revealed that Vince McMahon approved them doing it, and he and Kofi Kingston recieved no pushback from anyone in the company.
“So, we’ve done a few things, and I think we’re going to continue to use some things like you mentioned, taking a knee, to bring attention to this movement on SmackDown,” Big E stated. “And the nice thing is, you know, we ran it by Vince McMahon, our boss, and he approved it. We got no pushback there.
“We got a lot of support from the company with the podcast and we can’t typically put out video, not the whole video because of the way the contract is with our podcast, but they were so supportive with us putting up the whole conversation because we felt like it was important for people to listen to this hour plus, and to see it and to see our faces and see our expressions.”
Big E also noted the armbands that they have worn as well. Their armbands show the names of those that have been affected by police brutality. He said that they are looking to do more to help other than just post on social media.
“So we were thankful that we got support from the company too, but we’ve done different things,” Big E noted. “Like you said, we put the names of the victims, of these people who lost their lives and shouldn’t have. Put them on armbands: Shukri Abdi, Breonna Taylor, Tamla Horsford, Ryan Milton and so many more. We’ve tried to do a lot, we’re trying to learn ourselves with reading. And we’ve got a few other things in the mix too, that we’re trying to not just post on Twitter and on social media, but to help raise money too for organizations that are working towards racial justice.”
Big E spoke on wanting to keep the conversation going noting that conversations about race are often avoided. He said he wants people to continue to have honest conversations to help people of all communities.
“So, it’s been a lot of that, just trying to do the work in our communities to try to stay on top of this, to keep even just keeping the conversations going, man, honestly, just to keep talking about this,” Big E expressed. “And I think too often, we just shied away from this because we didn’t want to be labeled a racist, and it can be uncomfortable because as soon as you feel that someone is saying you’re racist or you’re racially insensitive, your first instinct can be to backpedal or to defend yourself.
“And for me, I don’t want it to be about, it’s not about labeling people around me racist or pointing fingers, it’s about having these honest conversations and analyzing the biases that we carry and being honest about that. And for us, man, it’s really just about like the same protection I want for my female friends and for my gay friends and people, I don’t know who are gay or female, the same protections that I would want for them, I want for black men and black women.”
Big E also talked about Randy Orton’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement after expressing an opposing view of All Lives Matter. Orton has said that he has started to learn more about Black Lives Matter and Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest during the anthem, and Big E talked about the Orton’s growth as a person and and impactful that change is.
“Randy will admit, like he doesn’t have the squeaky clean past,” Big E said. “Like he’s definitely, you know, made some mistakes in the past. And that’s not to absolve him of anything he’s done, but like you said, he’s had this really conservative viewpoint. It’s not for me to try to make him a liberal or anything, but I think it’s something that he’s had close black friends, and I consider Randy a friend, and we’ve had some of conversations at work.
“I think over the course of the last few years, even. And I think he’s finally starting to get it, you know? And like you said, that is I think as impactful as it can be to see a black athlete or black entertainers speak up about these things. I think it can be really impactful as well to see someone like Randy, who’s had these conservative views who in the past would never speak up to say anything like this to really, you know, I thought he did a really good job with what he posted and to offer that kind of support.”