Specifically, the former US men’s national team pillar took time to reflect on the privileges he’s encountered – knowingly or not – as a white male. He knows that his lived experiences aren’t accompanied by the same hesitations that his Black teammates must confront.
“I thought about it today on my way to training,” Kljestan, 34, said. “What would I feel like if I lived in my neighborhood here and I was Black, and how would I feel just walking around every day being judged? I never thought of that before and I’m embarrassed to say that, but I thought about it today and it made me so sad and angry. Enough is enough, you know. We gotta do what we gotta to make changes.”
Kljestan, along with his wife and two kids, have joined protests in Southern California that advocate for equality and against police brutality. They’re family decisions, with a conscious choice about which side of history they want to be on.
“My wife and I talked about and we said to each other, ‘What are we going to tell our kids … when they get a little bit older and ask these questions about what we did in 2020?,’” Kljestan said. “We wanted to be there, and we wanted to protest with the people because what’s happened in our country isn’t fair and we need change and we don’t want to see protests all the time, but they were necessary. It was so necessary because it makes me feel ashamed that I didn’t know enough about this.”
Kljestan also hopes players keep the conversation going during the MLS is Back Tournament this July and August in Florida. More insights from Kljestan on The Call Up can be found here.