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Randy Orton explains his change of heart on Black Lives Matter

And why he’s speaking up about it now.

A couple weeks back, just days after video of George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer inspired protests for racial justice around the world, Randy Orton tweeted about the Black Lives Matter movement.

It was a pleasant surprise, considering several years earlier Orton was one of many who viewed Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem at his NFL games to make a statement about police brutality as un-American.

While interacting with a follower who was upset by his evolving views, Randy offered the tweet-length explanation of why he changed his position from a strictly “All Lives Matter” one. Our old colleague Brent Brookhouse got a more in-depth explanation from the future Hall of Famer for CBS Sports:

“When Kaepernick was kneeling, I looked at it as disrespecting the American flag and that he was disrespecting the servicemen and women who fight for our freedom and our free speech and come home in a coffin when they give the ultimate sacrifice. That coffin draped in an American flag. I think I went on Booker T’s radio show and even said those things and I believed them.

“It took me a little time, but what I had to do was realize, Kaepernick, he wasn’t shitting on the flag. He wasn’t disrespecting the people that have given their lives for our freedom. He was taking a stand against police brutality. As a white guy, I don’t see it. But then I started listening to my black brothers and sisters, especially the ones I’ve known for years and some for more than a decade. I was hearing first-hand accounts of interactions with cops that took advantage of the situation and the power they had because they maybe felt a certain way about the color of someone’s skin. That’s when the lightbulb went off.

“I’m embarrassed to say it, but it took me a little while but I get it. What I said on Twitter, I stand behind. If anyone doesn’t agree with me, I think they need to do more digging. Go look at Big E’s Twitter from a week ago, go look at Xavier Woods’ Twitter, go look at things Kofi said, that Mark Henry said, that Shelton said, that R-Truth said. If you read what they’re saying and try to put yourself in their shoes for even just a minute, you’re going to see right now that it’s not fair. All lives do matter, but like I said on Twitter, until black lives matter, all lives can’t matter. My only regret is that it took me a little bit and some soul searching to see that.”

Orton also explained why it was important for him to publicly join the movement:

“The more that social media has allowed us to see these horrific videos — and it wasn’t just George Floyd. I’ve seen so many after I did a little digging. You realize it is tough to be a black person in this country, and we’ve got a ways to go before all lives truly matter. I think what we have to do is make sure black lives matter.

“And I think white people, like me, especially with a platform, saying that? Sitting on your laurels and not saying anything? I don’t think that’s helping anything. You need to get out there and get in this conversation. You need to insert yourself. That is what I was trying to do.”

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