By Calvin Watkins
The Dallas Morning News
The world is changing. The voices of the oppressed are getting louder by the moment, and people with large platforms are being asked to speak out every day.
It doesn’t matter if it’s on social media, at a protest against police brutality or at a public hearing about whether the school board is spending enough money. The people are speaking.
DeMarcus Lawrence is a football player by trade. He’s not curing cancer. He’s not developing a flying car. He doesn’t have the cure for gout. But he’s trying to help.
The Cowboys starting defensive end wants his actions to speak for him. He’s about voting and developing educational programs, he’s handing out lunches and dinners to health care workers and marching in the streets of Fort Worth to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
Words are just words to him.
The request for Lawrence to say something regarding Jerry Jones, the man who approves the paychecks at The Star, isn’t something he wanted to participate in Tuesday.
Lawrence has had enough of the discussions on social media and among television commentators about whether he should speak out more on social issues.
"I’m not going to sit here and take my time and basically shed light on Jerry Jones, that’s not my position," Lawrence told The News. "My position is to bring up the youth and give them more ways to find out what they want to become. Once you start asking me on a Black Lives Matter movement and Jerry Jones and the Cowboys — that ain’t none of my concern right now."
Jones is facing growing criticism for not speaking out on social issues and not issuing a statement if Cowboys’ players take a knee during the national anthem. Jones was against kneeling in 2016 when former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick did it to raise awareness against police brutality and other social ills against poor people.
But the Cowboys released a video statement June 4, approved by Jones, supporting peaceful protest against police brutality and wanting their players to speak out on other social issues. The words issued in white lettering against a black backdrop was the Cowboys statement:
"Our hearts are burning with anger and sadness. Racism and hatred have to stop. We have to come together to change the system. The killing of George Floyd among many others shows the importance of why those efforts continue. Difficult dialogue moves protect toward progress. Listening and learning in unity. We can be better."
If you know anything about the Cowboys, any statements produced must get approved by Jones, the most powerful owner in the NFL. And this statement was an organizational one.
Lawrence feels regardless of whether Jones talks, his voice alone won’t get it done. More needs to happen.
"If Jerry Jones comes out and says, ‘I’m racist.’ Then what? What’s the next step in Black Lives Matter?" Lawrence said. "That don’t change nothing. If he comes out, he stands with us, it still don’t matter. It ain’t going to change the results of anything, so I’m going to use my platform to help bring up the youth instead of talking about Jerry Jones."
Lawrence is saying not everybody has to speak up on an issue. But it’s also the right of American citizens to voice their opinion. Lawrence mentioned a video of a white lady waving a confederate flag in a threatening manner at protesters as an example of executing your constitutional right.
"Just like she has her rights to stand with a confederate flag," Lawrence said, "we have our rights to take a knee or raise a fist up, to sit on the bench if we want to during the national anthem."
Whenever the 2020 season starts, many will watch Lawrence and his teammates to see if they do something as the national anthem is played. It’s never been about protesting the anthem, but raising awareness against police brutality and other social ills.
Lawrence wants to make sure people know this, but he also wants something else: Do something. Vote. Attend a school board or city council meeting. Let the lawmakers know you’re around. Get laws changed. Hold lawmakers and public officials accountable for their actions or lack thereof.
"My main focus is how we can really make change?" he said. "We can sit here and take a knee and say we believe in change and social justice but what are we really doing to make a change? And to be honest, I don’t even think silent protest is the way. Martin Luther King been doing this in the 60s, and we’re still back in the same place. What are we really going to do?"