When Steelers tackle Zach Banner was a rookie in 2018, a gunman opened fire on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11.
So when he saw DeSean Jackson‘s anti-Semitic comments on social media — and the resulting backlash — it stirred some powerful emotions in him.
Banner decided to film a video to share his thoughts with the black community, the Jewish community, and the world at large.
“This beautiful city of Pittsburgh, . . . and we need to understand Jewish people deal with the same amount of hate and similar hardships and hard times,” Banner said in the video, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. “I’m not trying to get emotional right now, but I want to preach to the black and brown community that we need to uplift them and put our arms around them. Just as much when we talk about Black Lives Matter and elevating ourselves, we can’t do that while stepping on the back of other people to elevate ourselves, and that’s very, very important to me, and it should be important to everyone. . . .
“We can’t preach equality but in result flip the script and change the hierarchy, if that makes sense. Change your heart, put your arm around people, and let’s all uplift each other.”
Jackson has since made multiple apologies after posting the remarks, and Banner made it clear he didn’t want to continue piling on the Eagles wide receiver.
“I saw his apology video, and it seems like his heart is in the right place, but understand that this video isn’t towards him,” Banner said. “It’s towards that idea and mindset that sparked it in the first place.
“There’s a common misbelief among black and brown people — and I know this from growing up, and I’ve heard it, and I’ve listened to it — that Jewish people are just like any other white race. You mix them up with the rest of the majority, and you don’t understand that they’re a minority as well.”
Banner’s words of reconciliation follow with Chiefs tackle Mitchell Schwartz (who is Jewish), who wrote: “We can only have change if we denounce racism and bias in all its forms. Our platforms as athletes are a powerful tool, and with them comes immense responsibility. We can all do better.”