Colorado Rapids forward Kei Kamara joined the BBC for an interview on Friday, where he discussed his experiences while attending the police brutality protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Kamara, who has 345 MLS regular-season appearances, also reflected on how fatherhood fueled him speaking out for change. Further, Kamara said Black players throughout MLS are in continued dialogue and plan to bring the issues of police brutality and racism to the forefront when play resumes in Orlando.
"It's for my kids," Kamara, 35, told the BBC. "It's for my kids. We've been in a lockdown with the coronavirus not being able to play soccer at the moment for so long at home. And when stuff like this is happening, you watch it over and over and, again, I'm somebody that's married to a white woman and we have three little kids. These kids, everybody that's ever going to see them, the first thing they see is Black kids. We want to see them reach the highest they can ever reach without being judged. And so for me, again, it's the respect to the people before us, the people that fought for bringing some kind of equality that is in America at the moment, that gave me a chance to be an immigrant, an African immigrant to move to America – people had to fight for that before.
"I came here and now I'm an American citizen and I'm living the dream of playing soccer all around the world, and I want to make sure that hopefully one day my kids can look back at this time – because I took my kids to [the protest] – I laid down on the ground for nine minutes and my son actually then laid down next to me without even asking. Kendrick is only 3 and he just decided to lay next to me. And I turned around and I saw him and it just hit me so hard: Like, wow."
I pray as you (@kamarababies) laugh and play during these times that one day when you have the knowledge to look back at this you could say “Wow so this was when everything changed and everyone was treated EQUAL” and I pray that you never have to lay in this position wether by your doing or someone else’s 🖤🤍🤎💛💜❤️💙💚 #BlackLivesMatters #KamaraBabies #OneWorld #OneLove #OneLife #Peace
Kamara said he feels it's important for players to use their platforms as athletes to speak out on these issues.
"As Black players around the league, we're starting to communicate and see what we are going to do to really represent the Black people and the Black athletes and the Black kids across the country, because they look up to us," Kamara said. "It's going to be difficult times, because it's not really just about sports. The coronavirus shut us down for a while, it's been 2-3 months, people haven't played. It's not just about sports, it's about the well-being of everyone and that's why this one is bigger than sports at the moment."
Kamara, who joined the Rapids in 2019, has also played for Columbus Crew SC, San Jose, Houston, Sporting Kansas City, New England and Vancouver during his MLS career. He's fifth (127) on the league's all-time goals scored list.