Portland Timber’s Jeremy Ebobisse: A powerful voice on racial injustice in America

Jeremy Ebobisse #17, Portland Timbers (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Jeremy Ebobisse #17, Portland Timbers (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Jeremy Ebobisse advocates for racial justice and equality, and I hope you’ll listen.

Jeremy Ebobisse is thoughtful, bright, informed, and vocal. A soccer talent out of Duke University, he’s fought his way to a bigger stage in the MLS as part of the Portland Timber’s front line.

Though born in France he’s lived in the United States for the majority of his life and chose the US as his nation to represent on the soccer field. Representing your national team is an honor and a remarkable accomplishment few people get to experience.

For many of those chosen few, standing with their hand over their heart as the national anthem is played is a deeply moving experience and one that fills them with pride. But for Jeremy Ebobisse, living in the United States in a racially charged climate, he has mixed feelings when listening to the anthem.

He just released a post expressing his thoughts not just on the death of George Floyd and the aftermath of the tragedy, but on racial injustice in America as a historic problem that continues to bleed into the present. In the photo caption of the article he states,

"I’m always conflicted hearing the anthem before games because on one hand it is the country I’ve chosen to be a part of, but on the other it is a country that still refuses to defend the rights and humanity of its black and brown citizens."

Jeremy Ebobisse is a constant advocate for racial justice, having used his platform as a professional athlete to eloquently express his feelings long before today.

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Even before having a platform he had conversations with peers. One incident that sparked these conversations was when a noose was discovered hanging on the Duke campus, an event he spoke about to The Guardian in 2019.

Though I’ve always appreciated Ebobisse’s willingness to speak out on racial inequality and being black in America without worrying whether it makes people uncomfortable or loses him fans on the soccer field, I’m particularly appreciative of it today.

Much like Jeremy Ebobisse I grew up in a place of privilege and was fortunate enough to be protected from many of the injustices that happened on a daily basis in other communities. But I find myself particularly connecting with his statement in The Guardian saying,

"Being around comfortable financial situations allowed me to progress on my own track and not worry about a lot of things, but inevitably they all found their way into my life, at different moments."

I watched my brother try not to retaliate when he was called the N-word numerous times on the soccer field growing up. I got a phone call that my brother and his friend where stopped by the police as children while taking a walk in their own neighborhood.

In high school I had to search for an ancestor’s grave in a segregated cemetery with unmarked headstones in Virginia. And now I find myself scared for my brother, afraid for him to step outside at the wrong time in the wrong place.

I hope that the voices of the crowd calling out right now for action, for change, and for justice don’t blow away in the wind. I hope my brother and I will find cause to be proud of the country we were born in, and that Ebobisse can embrace the country he’s chosen.

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Though the league shutdown means the wait to see Ebobisse in action on the field continues, you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram. He certainly has a lot to say.