August 9, 2013
Riley Cooper made a huge mistake last June at a Kenny Chesney concert in Lincoln Financial Field. He had a few too many drinks, got into an altercation with a Black security guard, and dropped a racial slur in the midst of the conflict. Someone caught the incident on their camera phone, uploaded it onto Youtube, and the video went viral in hours. Cooper yelled, “I will fight every nigger here!, on the video, and got into a verbal confrontation with another guy in the parking lot too.
Almost immediately after his video went viral in July, Cooper sent a set of tweets across his Twitter feed apologizing to fans, to his teammates, and for embarrassing his parents with the drunken outbursts. He said publicly that they did not raise him to be a racist and that he made a poor decision. He then went to each teammate in the Philadelphia Eagles training camp and apologized personally to them, regardless of race. He talked to 85 separate men and told them that he did not expect for them to forgive him, but that he hoped to earn their respect with his actions moving forward. He wanted the onus of his absolution to be placed on his shoulders rather than putting pressure on his teammates to forgive him.
Cooper handled this incident about as well as he could have handled it. He owned where he was wrong, he went out of his way to apologize for his actions, and he even took pressure off of his teammates to make the right comments for public perception.If more kids handled their missteps as well as Riley Cooper did this situation, then the world would be significantly more amiable.
But, this article has not been written to admonish him for his racist comments. And, it was not written to label him a racist. This article was written to put this incident into perspective.
People like to pretend that racism no longer exists in this nation. However, when comments like these surface, America is forced to look at itself for what it is, prejudiced. America is the greatest nation in the world, but it is only 50-60 years removed from segregation. The men and women who fought to keep schools separate ran this country and raised children. Some of the men who burned crosses and lynched minorities are the living grandfathers and great grandfathers of this generation. And, that truth was not realized until a young lady on the same video almost comically said that Riley used a ‘hard “R”‘ at the end of the “N” word. Riley Cooper’s comments were an accident, but they were not an aberration.
This does not mean that Riley Cooper is member of the Klan. He is probably not a bad man. Riley is just a kid who said some unfortunate words while inebriated at a concert. Every person who has the ability to express themselves has probably made at least one comment that they wished that they could retract. However, no person can blurt out something hurtful that was not already rooted firmly inside of them.