BYU COUGARS

Former BYU Star Yoeli Childs Shares Life Experiences As A Black Man In Utah

Jun 17, 2020, 12:46 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2020, 10:35 pm

PROVO, Utah – Former BYU basketball star Yoeli Childs is using his platform to bring positive change during this historic Black Laves Matter movement.

Yoeli Childs opened up about his life experiences and articulated his personal feelings on his personal Instagram page. In his Instagram post, Childs hoped that his followers can learn something about hi and what black people across the country face on a regular basis.

Childs went to high school at Bingham High in South Jordan and then attended BYU for the past four seasons. The state of Utah is Childs’ home.

Here are the life experiences that Childs shared via his personal Instagram page.

I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on how to articulate my feelings about what’s going on, and has been going on in this country. I want to share my genuine view as a black man living in this country and a black man that grew up in a predominantly white area.

If you feel attacked by my personal experience then I would ask you to try your best to understand that I am not attacking you or being aggressive (I understand that tone is difficult to read). If you feel uncomfortable, that’s ok, this is a serious topic.

Growing up in Utah I first realized that people looked at me different from a young age. Everywhere I would go people would stare at me and my younger brother. Young kids still aren’t very good at hiding it. This isn’t racism, this is a normal response to seeing something or someone that looks different.

When I was 11, I learned that many people didn’t just look at me because I looked different than them. The first experience I remember was walking through a grocery store parking lot and seeing an older white woman, who was clearly scared, scramble to lock her door as I walked by. I remember being followed at the store and accused of stealing several times. As a black man things like this never really stop, they just start to change as you get older. I was pulled over in Provo while I played at BYU by an officer that went back and forth with me for several minutes because he did not believe my car was in fact mine.

I’ve been called all kinds of racial slurs for as long as I can remember. This has happened in public, even during basketball games in high school. I have on several occasions had threats to my life because of the color of my skin. My brother and I have had a knife pulled against us while being called horrible names as teenagers.

My brother has had a police officer hold a gun to the back of his head for “being in the wrong neighborhood”. On another occasion he was pulled over on the freeway and with no explanation ordered out of his car over a megaphone. He was ordered to stand with his hands on the back of his head and walk backwards on the side of the icy freeway while 6 officers pointed guns at him. He was immediately handcuffed and his car was searched for 40 minutes. He had a gun pointed at his face for the entire 40 minutes in the cold. He was eventually told to go home and that he was pulled over because his car “fit a description.”

These are experiences that almost all black people face across the country. There is deep seeded racism that has painted black people as criminals.

I understand that everyone’s lives matter. Everyone knows that “all lives matter” but not everyone knows that Black Lives Matter. Black lives have been treated as lesser for the entire history of our country. We are seen as threats and criminals because of the traditions passed down through generations. I’m reminded of how when our nation was founded, the Declaration of Independence stated “All men are created equal” but at the same time the country was being built by slaves on stolen land.

People are sick and tired of the mistreatment and disregard for black life. Specifically by the law enforcement community and criminal justice system. We are sick of the brutality, excessive force, and killings. Why are blacks imprisoned 5 times as much as their white brothers and sisters? Why are black people imprisoned 6 times more for drug use when black and white people use drugs at a similar rate?

Why do blacks receive 19% longer sentences for the same crimes as whites people? The answer is systematic racism.

Systemic racism is both visible (written laws) and invisible (passed down ideas and practices).

I, like so many people in this country, am angry, sad, hurt, and desperate for change. I don’t agree with violence, but please understand what Martin Luther King meant when he said “riots are the language of the unheard”.

After MLK was assassinated, American Cities started rioting, causing millions of dollars in damage. On the 6th day of the riots, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was passed.

There is no right way to protest. No matter how people protest it is met with “that’s not the way to do things”. No I don’t want to see violence and no I don’t advocate for destruction, but the message that Black Lives Matter, and that change is necessary needs to be heard.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I really am so grateful for those that want to hear what people of color go through and for those that are willing to listen with an open mind and heart.

I don’t have all the answers and I don’t know how to fix everything but I believe it starts with hearing the experiences of others and trying to educate yourself on why things are the way they are. This world needs more empathy and willingness to listen and change. There is no shame in not knowing things or not knowing what to do. The problem comes when you start to learn this is an issue and choose to be bling to it.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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