Responsibility for change falls to everyone, and former BYU basketball standout Yoeli Childs has taken the first step in his own life to be visibly proactive in social matters.
Childs, who is preparing for a professional basketball career, posted a message on his Instagram account on Tuesday night in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. He described his life as a black man in Utah, posted harrowing experiences he and his younger brother have been through and described how he wants to inspire communication between races to find solutions.
Childs also appeared on BYUtv’s “BYU Sports Nation” program to address the racial issues that have been on the forefront of the nation’s consciousness the past month.
Childs thanked those who had read and responded to his message, saying he was “blown away” by the thoughtfulness shown and the willingness to learn.
“I didn’t just type this up yesterday,” Childs said. “I started writing it probably two weeks ago. I’ve made a lot of changes to it because I was so concerned of letting my message out in the right way. I didn’t want to be offensive and I didn’t want to divide. There are things going on in the history of our country that bring a lot of emotions to black people.”
Childs said he felt “anger, pain, rage and sadness” when he watched the killing of George Floyd by police officers on May 25.
“One of the things I’ve tried to learn from my experiences is to put my initial emotions aside and devise a plan for how to express my feelings in the right way to bring us together and not tear us apart,” he said.
Childs related two terrifying experiences his younger brother, Masay, had with police in Utah when no crime had been committed. Childs said while playing for BYU he was once stopped by a police officer who didn’t believe the car he was driving was his own.
“I haven’t had the experiences with the police like my brother has had, but every experience I’ve had with police outside of the classroom has been a negative experience and that’s just the reality of my truth,” Childs said. “I’m not saying all police offers are bad. I had a class in high school taught by Officer Russell and he was one of the greatest people I’ve ever met. He was so kind, genuine and loving.”
Childs said he realizes his opinion does matter and education is the best way to find solutions.
“I think we should just try to our best to live like Christ lived,” Childs said. “We need to just try our best to emulate that. What is more Christ-like than the parable of the lost sheep? Christ cared for the minority and the disenfranchised. The most Christ-like thing we can do is to take the time to learn and care about a minority group. If we have the mindset of a Christ-like mentality, when we do these things it will open up different levels of patience and different levels of understanding.
“The biggest thing we can do is to continue to educate ourselves. That’s the first big step to understand what’s happening and why it’s happening. We have to understand why black kids are more likely to get detention. Why are black people more likely to be pulled over? Why are black people more likely to get sentenced to jail than their white brothers and sisters? Why do they get longer sentences? Why do black people who graduate from college have half the rate of employment?”
Childs also challenged others to educate their own families.
“I think it’s so important to use social media to share our opinions and share what we learn with the world,” he said. “But I think where we make real change is with your family. The way you raise the next generation will make a biggest impact than you can ever realize.”
Childs finished his BYU basketball career as the only player in school history to score 2,000 points and collect 1,000 rebounds while earning first team All-West Coast Conference honors three times. He is a rising star in the NBA draft. This week, USA Today pegged him as a second round draft choice (No. 40). The draft is tentatively scheduled for some time in October. He is represented by Keith Kreiter of Edge Sports Management.
To conclude his message on Instagram, Childs wrote, “I don’t have all the answers and I don’t know how to fix everything but I believe it starts with hearing the experiences of others and trying to educate ourselves on why things are the way they are. This world needs more empathy and willingness to listen and change. There is no shame in not knowing things or not knowing what to do. The problem comes when we start to learn there is an issue and choose to be blind to it.”
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I’ve always tried to be open about my life and experiences. This is another part of my life that I want to share. I know it’s kind of a long read but as a black man and someone that loves this community, I hope you can learn something about me and things that black people across our country face. Let’s grow together🙏🏽