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Herm Edwards calls for conversation, diversity amid racial injustice

Arizona State Sun Devils Head Coach Herm Edwards on the sidelines during a college football game against the UCLA Bruins played on October 26, 2019 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The death of George Floyd that was seen by millions of people sparked a national conversation about racial justice in America.

Protests ensued, while many called for major changes in policing and law enforcement practices in local governments. Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards chatted with Pac-12 Networks’ Pac-12 Perspective podcast in an episode published Tuesday. He talked extensively about what’s necessary for change, and among the questions was one that pressed the coach for what those in leadership roles could do differently.

“When you look at, not the football side of it but the management side dealing with football, just the NFL — 70% of the players are Black. Three head coaches, two GMs,” Edwards said. “Who are the decision makers? To me, that’s where it starts. It’s the circle of influence. Who influences you? Who is in your circle? And until that circle has different voices, from different walks of our community, you never hear their story. You can gain no knowledge. Your knowledge is all what you heard or what somebody said.

Edwards advocated, though, the conversation beginning at the smallest levels.

“Character, like good soup, is made at home,” he said. “What are you talking to your kids about right now in America, about what’s going on? What conversations are you having with your kids when you get them off that phone and you actually sit down and have dinner together? What is the conversation? That’s how you change.

“And a lot of people won’t do it. They’ll say, ‘Hey man, I’m good, I’m set, I don’t have to worry about it. That’s not my problem.’ No, it’s not your problem, but it’s going to be your children’s problem. Kick the can down the road.”

Some changes have been made already.

Mississippi lawmakers voted Sunday to surrender the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag, more than a century after white supremacist legislators adopted the design a generation after the South lost the Civil War.

“America’s not utopia, and it never will be. There’s always been this part of America that, for some reason — and I can’t talk for them — there’s been this racism, this racism factor. And maybe it’s through the heritage of how America was built. And a lot of people won’t let that go. And you’re not going to change those people.

“There’s always been racism, but now it’s on tape, and it’s ugly. And people are angry. They’re like, ‘This shouldn’t happen.’ The human element is coming out now. Because it’s on tape, it’s not a movie, it’s real. That Floyd situation? It wasn’t a movie. That was real. A man lost his life. We watched a man for eight minutes, and we watched it. And we went, ‘No. This is 2020. Why is this happening?'”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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