At some point, Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence will read that phrase in a tweet, direct message, email, or text. Someone will even probably scream it at him.
Because there’s only one thing racists hate just as much as Black people, and that’s a ni**er lover.
If you haven’t noticed, over the last few months Lawrence has stepped up. He’s used his voice and platform to become an ally for change. It’s invaluable, especially when you’re the first underclassman white “prototypical” quarterback that’s been fawned over by NFL teams since Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning.
On Sunday, Lawrence posted this to social media. It’s a statement from college football players that discusses the racial and social injustices that Black people have faced, especially this year, and how players want to become change agents on their campuses. They want to get people registered to vote, continue to raise awareness about racial and social issues, and hold those in power accountable.
Last month, Lawrence was one of the first players to post this. Another statement from players that expressed their desire to play during the pandemic, but under certain circumstances. They called for better health and safety procedures, wanted to establish a player’s association, and demanded scholarship guarantees for players, no matter if they opted in or out this season.
And in June, Lawrence was among some of Clemson’s football players that led an on-campus protest focused on unity. The school has already announced that it would be changing the name of the honors college, which was named for John C. Calhoun, a slave owner. They have also requested authority to change the name of a hall, which was in honor of former Gov. Ben Tillman, who was a flaming racist.
To understand why all of this is so important, you have to realize where Lawrence plays football and who his coach is.
South Carolina was the first state that tried to rid itself of the United States, which led to the Confederacy, which led to the deadliest war in American history, all because white people were too lazy to work for a living, so they preferred to fight, and die, over the right to own Black people.
Lawrence’s coach, Dabo Swinney, is a Trump supporter and has a history of using the N-word. This summer, some of Swinney’s current and former players informed us that assistant coach Danny Pearlman used “the N-word during practice with no repercussion” back in 2017. Pearlman confirmed it when he released a statement apologizing. Former Clemson player Haamid Williams also claimed that Swinney used the slur.
“Dabo walked into the meeting room and said ‘I don’t want to walk in the locker room with guests/future coaches hearing n—a this n—a that in our house,” he declared.
When Clemson takes the field to take on Wake Forest on Saturday night in their season opener, all the attention will be on Lawrence. He’s a lock to be the first name called in next year’s NFL Draft, and it will be the first time he’ll be the face of a movement and a football program.
Lawrence is fighting for equality against a system that’s been built on the backs of unpaid Black teenagers, and for justice in a state and county that was built on the backs of unpaid Black people.
Rule No. 1 has always been “never mess with the money.” And that is what Lawrence is attempting to do. He’s joined the “great awakening” that’s started to spread amongst some current and former white athletes.
We saw it when Kirk Herbstreit broke down crying discussing all the racial injustice he’s seen, as if he wasn’t tweeting positive things about Trump four years ago.
And just last year, Kyle Korver penned an essay on how he finally realized what white privilege was, even though he’s been playing in a Black league like the NBA since 2003 and used to be a teammate of Thabo Sefolosha, who had his leg broken by the NYPD during a wrongful arrest in 2015 all because he was Black.
Only time will tell if Lawrence is truly built for this fight, or if he’s just another white athlete that’s conveniently late to the party.
And if Trevor Lawrence is going to believe that a Black man died for his sins, the least he can do is hold his head high when fans that look like him and Evangelical Christians denounce him for being a ni**er lover.