Head coach Matt Rhule opening statement on racism and current events:
I feel compelled to talk about where things are right now. I know that I, like so many of you and so many people across this great nation, have been heartbroken and saddened at all the recent events in our society, the recent deaths of George Floyd and Armaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so much more.
As I sit there at night and watch the news with my kids…I have a 15-year old, I have a 7-year old and I have a 4-year old about to turn 5…it's really clear to me, I can't speak for other people I can only speak for me, but it's clear to me that history will look back at where we stood at this time. I know that my kids, when little Leona is in college, they'll look back at this time and this place and they'll want to know where their father stood and where their mother stood. Our grandkids will want to know where we stood in this time. That's a tremendous thing to think about. I know what it means for me is that I can't shy away from this moment. I don't think any of us can shy away from this moment. It is time for fundamental change in our societies. It's time for fundamental change in the way that we do things.
I certainly don't have all the answers. But as for me and my house, and for the way that I do things, it's up to me to find every which way that I can to make those fundamental changes. It's important to make statements, but it's really important for those statements to lead to discourse which eventually leads to action.
I've tried to be open to guys on our team, to our friends, to our family that I think it's really important at this time that we engage and participate in this discussion. When you're talking about something like racism…and I'm no expert, I don't pretend to have all the answers, but have an opportunity to share what I think…if you want to fix this, you can't fix it from one side. We need to have a discourse. I know as a white man, sometimes it can be daunting to talk about issues like racism. To be quite honest with you, we can sometimes be fearful that we can say the wrong thing and be seen in a way that we don't really feel, but we have to step up. We have to step up.
I was telling someone today that I'm a big Bob Dylan fan. So many years ago he sang so eloquently that "the times they are a-changing." But you can sit there and say, have they really? If they haven't changed, and it appears they haven't if you turn on the news, then it's time for a change. As white men, as white women, as white people, we might sometimes feel afraid to participate in the discussion, but it's time for us to do something.
It's time for us also to do so by not telling our black brothers and sisters or people of any ethnic group how they should feel. It's time for us to listen. It's time for us to empathize, and in any which way that we can, to engage and talk and find ways for that discourse to someday lead to action.
I think so many of us know that overt racism is easy to spot. We see it and we know that it's wrong and we know that it's hateful. We say "hey, I don't feel that way." But what's gripping our country is systemic racism. To me, it must be rooted out at every turn. That's all of our jobs: to admit that we do see color. We do see differences. To not sit there and say, "hey, we don't see that." It's there and our society needs all of us, at every turn, to find ways to root it out.
I think the first step is discourse, is conversation, is listening. But all that has to someday lead to action.
I'm proud of our team. I'm proud of the guys that have gone out and used their voices, have used their influence to try to make change. All of us, it's not one single person, we can't always make this huge fundamental change, but we can make small change. Whether it's guys in peaceful protest, whether it's guys out walking, whether it's guys turning to social media, whether it's guys out cleaning up the street. Reggie (Bonnafon) helped clean up the streets of Louisville yesterday. I'm proud to be associated with those people.
As I said, I never want to come across like I have all the answers, because I have very few. But I do know that for me and my house and the things that I would like to see myself moving forward, I would look back at some time and my kids and my grandkids that say that "my mom and my dad were on the right side of history." It's time for a change.