Saskatchewan Roughriders linebacker Solomon Elimimian delivers a personal story of racial profiling and encourages all CFL players to educate while creating positive change in society.
From the CFLPA president:
I hope everyone is doing well during these hard times.
Like many of you, I have been following the terrible news of the too many instances of racism against African-Americans that’s been happening in the U.S. From the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd to the egregious actions of Amy Cooper, toward Christian Cooper, in Central Park.
These stories have caused me great sadness, anger, and discouragement. They are not about politics, religion or nationality. These horrific scenarios are acts against humanity.
Upon hearing the latest tragedy in the case of George Floyd, I was immediately brought back to my upbringing as a youth in Los Angeles. I’ve dealt with racism many times in my life. Many of these instances involved the people who swore an oath to protect and serve our communities.
One instance in particular I recall riding as a passenger with my best friend in Los Angeles where we were pulled over by the police who had their guns drawn. We were roughed up, handcuffed, harassed and humiliated as we sat on the curb and treated like criminals while my friend’s car was searched. When asked why we were being detained, the only reason given was that “we fit the description of a crime committed.”
I would hear this phrase many times during my encounters with the police in Los Angeles. As I reflect upon that time, I chose to accept this injustice because I wanted to make it home alive, but perhaps more troubling is that I came to accept these racist and humiliating interactions with police and others as normal.
My own experiences along with the many others from Rodney King, to Eric Garner, to Trayvon Martin, and the many untold stories that we know happen regularly have caused deep-seated trauma. That trauma caused me to soon look at police officers in an untrustworthy light.
It was not until I went off to Hawaii for university and later lived in Canada that my experiences with law enforcement as well as society in general was drastically different. I now can see, and have experienced, the good in people. Even though I am not ignorant to the fact that racism exists everywhere, I came to know that normalizing racist behaviour by anyone would not help heal communities.
There is deep systemic oppression and racism that needs to be rooted out in society; and it starts by speaking out against it. We must combat evil with good by shinning a light on darkness. I want to thank our reps for their strength and recommendation to speak out as a union on this issue.
As President of the CFLPA I encourage all members to use their social platforms and influence to share their personal stories to educate as well as encourage people to bring about positive change so we can live in a society where we are all safe and proud. We owe it not only to ourselves but to our loved ones.
I am proud of football and the platform it serves to bring people together. Although we have our differences, I truly believe in the slogan that represents us all: “Diversity is strength!” Our condolences go out to the Aubrey and Floyd families.
Please share your story so that we might educate and influence change.
President | CFL Players’ Association