NFL offensive linemen Zach Banner and Mitchell Schwartz and defensive lineman Khalil McKenzie Jr. released messages on anti-Semitism on Wednesday in the wake of the uproar over DeSean Jackson’s Adolf Hitler and Louis Farrakhan-related posts.
Banner, who plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers, released a heartfelt video “to transition from the incident and move forward as a community.”
“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. “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.”
He said that he wasn’t trying to further fan the flames against Jackson but rather the “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.”
Schwartz, of the Kansas City Chiefs, posted his own statement later, saying he stood against “any form of discrimination and hate.” He conceded that Anti-Semitism was “on the rise in this country.”
“My hope is we can use this moment to shed light on and bring awareness to the hate and oppression the Jewish Community still faces while standing strong with the Black Lives Matter movement. 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,” he said in a statement.
McKenzie, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks, added his voice to the conversation as well. He tweeted: “Any informed black person should know we are a chosen people. Any informed black person should probably understand that quoting Hitler prolly not the best way to get that point across.”
Jackson came under fire for highlighting quotes attributed to Hitler and for praising Farrakhan, a noted anti-Semitic preacher. Jackson apologized twice for his social media actions.