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Renaldo Garcia isn’t shielding his teenage sons from this movement or moment

The Berkeley Prep coach and former Gators guard said it sickened him, but he was compelled to have his boys watch the video of George Floyd's death.
Berkeley Prep boys basketball coach Renaldo Garcia with his sons Rico (13) and RJ (17).
Berkeley Prep boys basketball coach Renaldo Garcia with his sons Rico (13) and RJ (17). [ Courtesy of Renaldo Garcia ]
Published Jun. 20, 2020
Updated Jun. 20, 2020

This Father’s Day, we reached out to a number of our sports landscape’s prominent African-American dads to talk about the ongoing quest for racial equality. Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

For most of his teenage sons’ lives, Berkeley Prep boys basketball coach Renaldo Garcia has tried to shield RJ, 17, and Rico, 13, from the realities they’ll face as young black men. That changed when the former Gators guard and state championship coach saw the video of George Floyd’s death.

“While it sickened me, I felt compelled to have both my sons watch the video as well. We have often discussed the relationship between society and black men. How unfair and disparate the treatment of black men in our country has historically been and how much of that continues today.

“I then sat them down and we began a series of conversations about relationships. First and foremost, I explained to them that the most important relationship was their relationship with God and their family. That no matter what society or any individual may try to tell them or make them feel, their lives matter to their mother and I and their family and friends.

“I shared stories of their grandparents and how and what they had to go through to get to the point and rise to the levels that they attained. How despite difficult days and tough times that they would have to push ahead and continue the battle. And as a result of their relationship with society that they have a responsibility to speak truth to power when they see that something is unfair, disparate, or immoral.

“We spoke specifically of the relationship between black men and police officers. And I explained in very sobering and explicit terms the need to be extremely cautious when stopped by the police. There was no rational explanation for these instructions other than their black lives matter to my wife and I, and therefore they need to be careful. While I delivered this speech in a very calm fashion outwardly, inside I was in a rage as to why my sons needed to be burdened with this heavy conversation when they should be relaxing as summer vacation has started. Unfortunately, I knew it was necessary to reiterate these types of instructions once again after seeing the utter lack of value placed on the life of a black man, an American, a human being pleading for his last breath.

“And lastly, I talked about hope and faith and the relationship those two words play in our lives as a family. I told my boys, despite these dark days that I remain hopeful because I see black and white protesters standing arm in arm and saying, in fact acknowledging, that black folks have been gaslighted for too long. That the time for changes is now. That we can do this together, that we must do this together! So, we as a family must now rely on our faith that these are not just demonstrations for the sake of demonstrating but a movement for change.

“The conversations continue.”

• • •

Coverage of local and national protests from the Tampa Bay Times

HOW TO SUPPORT: Whether you’re protesting or staying inside, here are ways to educate yourself and support black-owned businesses.

WHAT PROTESTERS WANT: Protesters explain what changes would make them feel like the movement is successful.

WHAT ARE NON-LETHAL AND LESS-LETHAL WEAPONS? A guide to what’s used in local and national protests.

WHAT ARE ARRESTED PROTESTERS CHARGED WITH? About half the charges filed have included unlawful assembly.

CAN YOU BE FIRED FOR PROTESTING? In Florida, you can. Learn more.

HEADING TO A PROTEST? How to protect eyes from teargas, pepper spray and rubber bullets.