Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant spoke out on his Facebook page Sunday about black culture, encouraging others in the black community to create their own realities and focus on individual accountability, sparking a racial relations debate with his fans.
"First and foremost I would like to say I do a great job of minding my own business but it's pressing on my heart to share my thoughts about white Americans and black Americans (racism)," Bryant began in his first of several posts on the matter. "I saw a person quote Charles Barkley when he said, 'We as black people we're never going to be successful not because you white people but because of other black people.' I hate to admit it but I understand that quote."
Bryant continued, addressing his own personal run-ins with racism and indicating it was still no excuse for him to extend ill feelings toward others who were of the same race as those who targeted him. "I've been racial [sic] profiled on numerous occasions but not once has it influenced an ill feeling inside me about anyone outside of that issue," Bryant said.
"REAL SLAVERY is different from what's going on in our world now.. we all (every ethnicity) have the opportunity to lead by EXAMPLE. Instead of making videos about the history of racism that get applause or people with influence merely doing things to post for social media we should focus on individual accountability to be better as a whole," he continued.
Bryant mentioned an old acquaintance he ran into who told him that seeing Bryant's success inspired him to do better things with his life. Homing in on members of the black community who criticize members of their own race, Bryant questioned the legitimacy of their claims.
"Real question [sic] what is wrong with being sophisticated and black? Why do we associate those who choose the straight and narrow as not being 'black enough.' Why was it that I was one of the first examples of success to my friend," Bryant asked.
"We focus hard on fighting the realities that exist instead of creating our own reality. The ones who came before us (Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X...) paved a new path for us to follow. The struggles and hurt they endured created new life for us today. It is not our job to carry the burden but it is our job to lead by example," he concluded.
Fox Sports host Shannon Sharpe criticized Bryant for his expression, saying that Bryant's message was "horrifically wrong."
"What is happening, Dez, when you say personal accountability — OK, so I’m supposed to hold me accountable for slavery? What about Reconstruction? What about the Jim Crow South? What about segregation? What about the violation of my civil rights and my voting rights," Sharpe said on air during his show "Undisputed." "So who do I hold accountable for that?”
Bryant responded to the criticism on Twitter, asking to debate the matter on air and telling Sharpe, "All I can say to your response is you have to want to make a change."
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) April 11, 2017