‘This is our moment’: Q&A with Cal football cornerback Josh Drayden on activism

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Editor’s note: The following is a Q&A between Shailin Singh, football beat reporter for The Daily Californian, and Josh Drayden, a redshirt senior for the Cal football team. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.


Shailin Singh: You, along with many of your teammates, have made your voice heard on the streets and online throughout this movement. What are your thoughts about what you, specifically, are protesting for, and also what you think other people are protesting for?

Josh Drayden: I’m protesting for people to realize that there is a problem and we’re not, you know, crazy. It’s an actual problem in America, and it’s been like this for a very long time. The first step towards change is seeing the problem and getting as many people on board with creating change as we can. Second, I feel like a lot of people are protesting also because we’re just tired and tired of doing the same thing, the same cycle. This is stuff that my grandmother went through, and it’s just not good to see it keep happening over and over again. I feel like a lot of people are just fed up, and those are emotions that are coming out and those are emotions that I’m feeling.


SS: Are there any specific changes you would like to see at a national or local level?

JD: One thing that could easily be implemented is just teaching more Black history, and authentic Black history. In all schools, not just predominantly African American schools, I feel like everybody should be knowledgeable about what happened to African Americans and their history. When I was in school, it was a lot of history about white Americans and stuff like that, so I feel like everybody should know about African Americans. That can touch a lot of young kids, and those young kids can create their own opinions and see the wrongdoings of a lot of people in American history, and maybe not want to be like them.


SS: Moving to the sports side, what would you like to see changed in football specifically, whether at Cal, in the Pac-12, in the NCAA or even in the NFL?

JD: I would like for all college and professional football players to feel like we have a platform where we can truthfully say what we want to say, without having to fear for a scholarship or a job like Colin Kaepernick. For all of the revenue we generate for the school or that professionals generate for owners, we should be able to express what we want to express, especially over situations like these. That’s why I feel like the athletes that are stepping out and saying stuff are being huge role models. I know a lot of people out there and a lot of athletes that are really passionate about the situation, but don’t want to say anything bad to affect their status as an athlete. The whole environment needs to make it so that no athletes feel like that. Especially with all the hard work and blood, sweat and tears and things that we put into this game, we shouldn’t feel like we have to be restricted in our opinion or our fight for our culture, our African American brothers and sisters, just to keep a job playing football.


SS: You’ve been ahead of this curve. In our February Black History Month feature, you said “having that platform is one thing, but being able to use it to uplift and continue to progress throughout the community — that’s something that we as athletes have to take responsibility.” What has it been like seeing so many athletes around the world speak up against racism and police brutality, and how do you think athletes can continue using their platforms to improve society?

JD: It’s very encouraging because seeing those professional athletes do that makes me want to do even more, and I know it does it for my friends and my other teammates. For example, Mike Saffell, he’s doing a lot of stuff to help young students with reading, and he approached me and some of the other teammates and talked about how we could do more to help implement them in the Black community. I feel like just things like that in itself is just showing that there are great people out there that are doing things to help spread positivity throughout the community, especially throughout the youth. I feel like the youth right now for us are huge — just teaching them history and not letting them grow up being ignorant.


SS: For people who aren’t Black and don’t face this type of underrepresentation or lack of opportunity, what is something that we lack in our perspective or something that we should be more conscious of?

JD: I would say, just be cautious of things that may not affect you, when they may affect someone who is not as fortunate or might not be in the same situation. Just continue to educate yourself so you know what lines there are. Continue to support the movement that’s going on to bring equality and bring more peace throughout the world. It’s very promising, and it’s really great to see.


SS: Is there anything else you would like to add?

JD: Ending on a positive note, I feel like our generation is the generation that’s going to be the one to really start change. This is our time, and this is our moment in history. I guarantee you, when I’m a 65 or 70-year-old man, and we look back on this and they’re talking about this in history books, I know what side of history I want to be on. Everybody should not just think about themselves in this situation, but also think about all the lives that are going to be coming into our world and just the impact that we can have on those people and just leaving the world a better place.

Shailin Singh covers football. Contact him at [email protected].