Allen: ‘My heart is telling me I need to say something’

Indiana coach Tom Allen became one of several coaches and athletes Friday to use social media to speak out on racial injustice following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Allen posted to Twitter, “My heart is broken by what is going on in our country. Racial injustice is wrong and it MUST be addressed!! I Believe we are to LOVE EACH OTHER! No matter one’s skin color.

“Love is a choice,” Allen continued. “Our prayers are with George Floyd’s family. John 15:12.”

Floyd, a black man, died in police custody Monday after a white officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. A video of the incident circulated widely.

In a story published by The Athletic on Saturday, Allen expounded on why he felt the need to speak up following the death of Floyd and protests that have erupted nationwide. Allen told reporter Bruce Feldman he contacted IU athletic director Fred Glass before posting to social media and was told to follow his heart.

“My heart is telling me I need to say something, that sitting in silence is wrong,” Allen told The Athletic. “I just feel like the silence was wrong because of who I represent and what our team is made up of. And, for the guys that I have worked with my whole life to try to help them become the men I believe they were created to be.”

Several IU athletes have also used their platform to speak up. IU men’s basketball player Trayce Jackson-Davis simply tweeted the hashtags, “#ICantBreathe #BlackLivesMatter.”

Former IU guard Devonte Green quoted Will Smith from an interview four years ago, when the actor told late show host Stephen Colbert that “Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.”

IU receiver Whop Philyor posted, “THIS IS RIDICULOUS. WHY? WHAT DID MY PEOPLE DO? Our LIVES MATTER TOO!” He later tweeted, “CHANGE needs to happen.”

Philyor kept it going on Saturday, tweeting, “Don’t let this die out, continue until they hear us and feel our pain. Things need to change.”

IU volleyball coach Steve Aird also added a few words on Twitter, including quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. and James Baldwin.

Aird wrote, “What’s happening is heartbreaking. It’s racism. It needs to end.”

Allen didn’t necessarily believe he could relate to the frustrations of black athletes and coaches, but he could validate them.

“These are tough times. Some of these guys are feeling a lot of anger and emotions and fear, and rightly so. I just want to be there for them,” Allen told The Athletic. “I told them that I can’t relate. I’m not going to act like I can. But I care and I love them. And that will never change and I will do everything I can to help us create the change that I believe that we need.”

More college coaches have spoken out since, including former IU offensive coordinator and first-year Fresno State head coach Kalen DeBoer.

“My heart aches when I think about the events leading to the death of George Floyd,” DeBoer wrote. “To say that I have the answers to the racial injustices that exist in our country would be foolish. We do have a voice and it is an important time for us ALL to take a stand and to count ourselves amongst those that will be part of the answer.”

4 comments

  1. I am glad coach Allen stepped up to let his voice be heard. Our country has come a long way in ending legal discrimination but people are finding eliminating individual racism is difficult. There is no gov’t passage of law that will bring about this last step. There are so many things that lead to individual racism that we can’t point to a simple solution. Until parts of our society decide that the lack of racism is important enough to achieve we won’t eliminate it.

    How blacks in the public eye present themselves establishes the way many whites and others see them. Violent images in music and news overrides many good images of blacks and other minorities. White families that see themselves as superior to other groups continue to perpetuate that attitude in generations to come.

    The advantage of the LEO approach is it teaches each team member to care for teammates no matter what color they are. I was fortunate to grow up in a poor white family that was colorblind and I grew up not seeing different races but people. In the Marine Corps the motto was everyone in the Marines were green. Yes I saw racism by both sides in the Corps but the standard of the organization was to eliminate any racism that cropped up. One day we may see our society judging individuals based on the content of their character.

  2. Kumbaya does not heal decades of inequity and failures of evenhanded justice.
    Our inner cities have rotted away while the rich get richer and own the majority share of America left to the tactics of out-of-control greed at the hands of robber barrons.
    Inequities grossly favoring one elite race merely fuels racism. In the mirror of such inequities is a color emboldened to believe they control the hands of justice.

    I find leanings on scripture as almost insulting. Lean on real justice and demand via those you elect to the highest offices to be decent human beings. Our leaders have been elected to perpetuate privilege and injustice. Their lives have been lived reflecting a rigged game that never elevates those pinned to the floor of their elitism and power.

    Cheap words and sermons will never replace decency, investment in the downtrodden, and the meaningful financial and heartfelt choices of leaders whose history has been to unite rather than conquer and divide.

    Love Each Other..? I say “Lift Each Other.” Act. Justice is not found on social media sites. Sadly, the filming and instant gratification of televised revolt is seen as the “equalizer.” Nothing is equaled until Americans unite against the corporate socialism holding masses hostage atop the ugly racism.

  3. Wonder if his heart is breaking over 3 people killed in Indy last night or the 53 year old black officer guarding the Oakland Federal Court building, the hundreds if not thousands of national and more importantly, small mom and pop stores that made it through the plague only to be burned down and looted, the fortunes and jobs lost? That’s who my heart breakes for.

  4. I think I’m to the point of paying college football players. Seen (or not seen) too many from the ‘Millionaires Coaching Club’ and ‘ADs Club’…and ‘Sports Entertainment/Network Club’ simply providing lip service during these troubling times. Put you wallet where your mouth is….Take a pay cut.

    When will we have administrators think more of the honor to represent the college they are an alumnus rather than simply seeing it as another way to make more millions (as they did in city lawyer profession, etc)? And now during these times of severe hardship (I mean, how many IU football players ever see an AD or a head coach’s salary?), most just tweet and blow ideological wind. True empathy does more than love, it acts upon the inequity/injustice and lifts.

    In the words of Henry Edward, avarice “plunges a man deep into the mire of this world, so that he makes it to be his god” (courtesy: Wikipedia)

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