Randy Orton recently spoke with Brent Brookhouse of CBS Sports to discuss his support for the Black Lives Matter group.
Orton previously responded to former NFL quarterback Colin Caepernick kneeling during the National Anthem by writing, “Americans are dying. Pigment of skin doesn’t matter. American people matter.” Orton then made headlines back on May 29 when he tweeted in support of BLM during the George Floyd protests, writing in response to a fan, “All lives DO matter, but the point I was trying to make is that I finally realized that until #BlackLivesMatters, they can’t. Get it?”
Orton talked to CBS Sports about how he came to that realization, noting that he changed his mind after making the decision to start listening and looking at what’s really going on.
“When Kaepernick was kneeling, I looked at it as disrespecting the American flag and that he was disrespecting the servicemen and women who fight for our freedom and our free speech and come home in a coffin when they give the ultimate sacrifice,” Orton said. “That coffin draped in an American flag. I think I went on Booker T’s radio show and even said those things and I believed them.
“It took me a little time, but what I had to do was realize, Kaepernick, he wasn’t s–tting on the flag. He wasn’t disrespecting the people that have given their lives for our freedom. He was taking a stand against police brutality. As a white guy, I don’t see it. But then I started listening to my black brothers and sisters, especially the ones I’ve known for years and some for more than a decade. I was hearing first-hand accounts of interactions with cops that took advantage of the situation and the power they had because they maybe felt a certain way about the color of someone’s skin. That’s when the lightbulb went off.”
Orton continued and said he’s embarrassed to admit that it took him some time to “get it” but he now stands by what he recently said.
“I’m embarrassed to say it, but it took me a little while but I get it,” Orton said. “What I said on Twitter, I stand behind. If anyone doesn’t agree with me, I think they need to do more digging. Go look at Big E’s Twitter from a week ago, go look at Xavier Woods’ Twitter, go look at things Kofi said, that Mark Henry said, that Shelton said, that R-Truth said. If you read what they’re saying and try to put yourself in their shoes for even just a minute, you’re going to see right now that it’s not fair.
“All lives do matter, but like I said on Twitter, until black lives matter, all lives can’t matter. My only regret is that it took me a little bit and some soul searching to see that.”
Orton also said it was not only hearing stories from black men and women in his life, but looking into the issue that led him to realize he had a responsibility to use his platform to help create change. He talked about digging and finding videos on social media.
“The more that social media has allowed us to see these horrific videos – and it wasn’t just George Floyd,” Orton said. “I’ve seen so many after I did a little digging. You realize it is tough to be a black person in this country, and we’ve got a ways to go before all lives truly matter. I think what we have to do is make sure black lives matter.
“And I think white people, like me, especially with a platform, saying that? Sitting on your laurels and not saying anything? I don’t think that’s helping anything. You need to get out there and get in this conversation. You need to insert yourself. That is what I was trying to do.”