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Cameron Heyward: ‘We Are Growing As A Family’ Through Discussions About Race

One of the unintended benefits of the stay-at-home restrictions tied to national efforts to help curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the opportunity for many people to spend more time with their family, and to use that time together to really get to know each other all over again and have important conversations.

Unfortunately, the country has had plenty to talk about over the past week and a half, stemming from the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four police officers in Minnesota, and the subsequent protests that have erupted in its wake, which has spread to more than a dozen countries.

Despite blood bonds, family members can be extremely diverse, including about where they stand on the political spectrum. Their religions can be different. Their taste in music most likely will be, too. Even their opinions about racism and prejudice. This last slice of life has been in the spotlight, and has been the topic of a number of just these types of conversations.

Cameron Heyward, one of the most respected members of the Pittsburgh Steelers, recently talked to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic about his own reflections during this time (among many other topics, which we’ll also get to, like his thoughts on Javon Hargrave yesterday), and how that has entered his own home.

I always try to judge people off of their character and my interactions with them”, he said. “I don’t have those preconceived notions of how somebody looks. I am black, but my grandmother is white. My wife is white. We are having more and more conversations about race”.

“One thing that has been good for us is yes, our country is hurting and we experiencing racism at a high level, but I am having talks with my wife about my children because they are mixed and they are going to be dealing with things in the future that she may not have always understood”, he continued. “We are growing as a family because of this”.

You can be in a relationship with somebody for decades, but still not know everything they’ve gone through. Everybody brings unique life experiences to the table, not just before the start of a relationship, but even during, and that can even come in a situation in which they are together, seeing two different things.

A national, even an international dialogue is critical right now, but so too are these private conversations taking place all over the land inside the home. Heyward’s household is just one of millions, and he understands that even he has things to learn through the experiences of others.

“I was fortunate enough to have my dad play sports my entire life, but we all come from different walks of life”, he said. “I have had a lot of teammates who came from different economic systems that might be looked at as a rags-to-riches story. It doesn’t change how they grew up and how they interacted with racism and discrimination. Just because we have a spotlight on us now doesn’t deter how we have been treated in the past”.

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