Receiver Christian Kirk is 23 years old and was the second-leading receiver on the Arizona Cardinals last year. While he is on the rise as an NFL player and already held local cache having gone to Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, he does not have the platform of a sports superstar. Not yet, anyway.
But as a pro athlete, speaking out against racism and police brutality is no longer viewed as a non-responsibility or reserved for a select few. It is not perceived as a risky cause for self-branding reasons. Pushing for change is a necessity for people of all professions, backgrounds and experiences. It’s why Kirk, from his own perspective and with the following of Cardinals football fans, wants to fight against societal injustices.
“My mom is white, my dad is black. I’ve witnessed my dad be racially profiled,” Kirk said Wednesday on a Zoom call with reporters. I give props to my mom, being a white mother and birthing three black children. Regardless of what’s in your blood, your DNA, we’re seen by the color of our skin. I even remember being at a young age her having to explain that to me. I give her so much props, the strength to be able to tell your young children, unfortunately, in this world you’re going to be judged by the color of your skin.
That conversation came when Kirk was only about 10 years old, he said. As the country continues to protest following the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, all of whom are black, the discussion has found itself tethered into sports across the world.
Publicly, the NFL has said it is listening to its black players. Privately, teams like the Cardinals have addressed the issues in depth.