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Portland Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse: I want people to feel motivated to change

When Benny Feilhaber, Sal Zizzo and Ike Opara co-host BSI: The Podcast, they do so as current or former MLS players, a dynamic that can lead to unusually honest and insightful interviews with guests.

So it was on their latest show, when Portland Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse joined to discuss the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement that has grown exponentially following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.

Ebobisse, who previously called for meaningful change during a powerful essay, shared the ways he experiences racism regularly as a black male.

“I can walk into a grocery store in athletic clothes and people will ask me if I can point them to a certain aisle,” Ebobisse said. “Once is a coincidence, but on a consistent basis it’s their own biases that Black people are there to serve. It’s frustrating, because in that moment you can’t react, because you’re the one that’s going to get in trouble, you’re the one who’s going to be the angry Black man in public, you’re the one who’s going to be making a big deal out of nothing. That person, it might be their first time doing it, but frankly it probably isn’t. But they’ll have the benefit of the doubt and we won’t.”

Asked how society can reverse deeply rooted societal issues Black people face, the 23-year old Ebobisse suggested some places to start.

“I understand the guilt that you and some white people are feeling,” Ebobisse said. “I don’t want anyone to feel guilty about this. I want people to feel motivated to change, but … if guilt leads to motivation then that’s fine by me. But ultimately, society has played such a pivotal role in everything that we’ve learned as kids. And unless you have actively gone out of your way to unlearn these things … then it is challenging to get the truth about our history.

"My U.S. history teacher told me that U.S. history teachers tend to be the most patriotic, and that often means shielding students of the harsh realities of this country.”

For more from Ebobisse, check out the entire podcast here.

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