Former Browns OL Joe Thomas Discusses Systemic Racism: 'Need to Be Anti-Racist'

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJune 18, 2020

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 24:  Joe Thomas #73 of the Cleveland Browns jogs off the field during a game against the San Diego Chargers at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Browns defeated the Chargers 20-17.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Former Cleveland Browns offensive tackle and seven-time first-team All-Pro Joe Thomas wrote in a Players' Tribune article that it's imperative people become anti-racist in the ongoing fight against social injustice and systemic racism.

Thomas wrote the following in part:

"We cannot just be nonracist. We really do need to be antiracist.

"Antiracism is direct opposition to any idea that supposes one race is better than any other in any respect. An antiracist sees more black people in poverty than white people and says, 'There must be something racist going on here'—because without racism there should be no difference in outcomes between races.

"In order to spur progress, we all need to be people who point out and shine a spotlight on racism wherever we see it. It doesn’t always have to be confrontational, but it does need to become the societal norm that racism is identified and not tolerated in any form or fashion. We cannot be afraid to talk about race and inequality any longer."

Thomas added that being "not racist" is "not good enough."

"White America must confront the fact that racism is real," Thomas wrote. "We must empathize with those facing it, actively call it out, and bring it to light in all its forms."

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The call for people to become anti-racist has grown in recent weeks, with Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud sending a similar message in her own Players' Tribune piece on May 30 by writing that athletes must refrain from staying silent in the fight against racism.

The 2019 WNBA champion also said athletes can collectively "move the needle" if everyone unifies and gets involved.

In addition, the Big Ten formed an Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition consisting of coaches, athletes and administrators from each of the conference's 14 schools.

Another example is occurring at the University of Texas, where student-athletes have provided the administration and athletic department with a list of requests.

They include (but are not limited to) renaming of buildings whose namesakes have racist beliefs or pasts, a call for the athletic department to donate 0.5 percent of its revenue to Black Lives Matter and black organizations and replacing the school song "The Eyes of Texas" with a substitute sans racist undertones.

As for Thomas, he continued the conversation on Twitter and practiced what he preached with various readers who disagreed with his sentiments.

"My black teammates & friends tell me how uncomfortable it is wearing black skin in America: you think they’re making this up?" Thomas asked one follower.

"Try putting yourself in their shoes. It’s a safe space for you @ home, open your mind and think about it. It costs you nothing but might benefit greatly."

Thomas also discussed refraining from racial stereotypes to another person:

"Behavior is individual and projecting an individual behavior upon an entire race is a version of racism. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes: imagine what it would be like going thru life having this type of projection on you."

The former University of Wisconsin star played 11 NFL seasons, all with the Browns. He retired after the 2017 campaign and worked as an NFL Network analyst for Thursday Night Football broadcasts this past year.