The nationwide conversations about racial injustice and the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin continued around Florida’s football program Thursday.
Coach Dan Mullen said the Gators didn’t seriously consider calling off practice — as USF and Boston College did — but they discussed racial issues afterward.
“There are a lot of bad people in the world,” Mullen said Thursday afternoon. “There’s also a lot of ignorant people in the world, and one of the best things we can do is try to educate ignorant people.
“... Educate yourself and try to understand other people, and try to become educated. The best way to respect somebody is to try to educate yourself about them, and if you do that, you have a chance of spreading a positive message. Spreading a great message of respect and love to other people in the world more than kind of hatred, ignorance, or those type of things.”
Mullen said the Gators encourage their players to use their platforms to speak for themselves, including on social issues.
“We can help people better understand things,” Mullen said. “We can help people by trying to become educated about other people, to try to learn about other people, to try to learn about other people’s backgrounds, to try to learn and respect other people’s backgrounds and not just draw assumptions. It’s really hard to do.
“... People have to try to get a little uncomfortable and people to have to try to go learn about other people. Go expand your horizons. Don’t just look at something and judge other people or don’t look at someone who is different than you and judge them. Go learn about everything.”
Mullen has tried to educate himself on social issues, too, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and how it’s different than the All Lives Matter response.
Mullen said one can see how the refrain that all lives matter makes sense until you view it another way. He compared it to the Boston Strong shirts that came out after the Boston Marathon bombing.
“Why does it only get to be Boston that gets to be strong, right?” Mullen said. “Of course all lives do matter, but that’s not what we’re talking about right now. We’re talking about this specific situation where we’re seeing racial injustice has happened and we’re trying to draw light to that. We’re not saying other things aren’t important, we’re trying to draw light to this.
“... When you say Black Lives Matter, it doesn’t mean I’m forgetting about other people. It means I’m focusing on the social injustice issues that we currently have in our country, and let’s focus on that.”
Mullen said the conversations around his team will continue, including how players can best utilize their platforms.
“It’s one thing to have a platform, it’s one thing to make a statement, but how do you make change?” Mullen said. “And what’s the best way to do that and make meaningful changes? And that’s one of the things that everybody’s working on.”