Israel Adesanya gave a moving speech at a Black Lives Matter demonstration Monday.The UFC middleweight champion said he “didn’t have a choice” about being black, but if he did, he’d “still be black.”Adesanya was speaking at a rally which followed widespread civil unrest in the United States, after the death of George Floyd in police custody last week.”I’m sick and tired of seeing those faces get killed because I see myself in them and it’s heartbreaking,” Adesanya said, after thanking white allies. “We need you.”Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
UFC champion Israel Adesanya gave a powerful, teary-eyed speech about being black.The Black Lives Matter demonstration took place on Queen Street in Auckland, New Zealand, on June 1, and was organized in solidarity with the ongoing protests throughout the US which followed the death of George Floyd.A black man, Floyd died in police custody after the white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for eight minutes. Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.Adesanya was seen looking visibly upset after he joined the demonstration, and he got on the microphone to talk about his lived experiences.
“I have to speak up,” Adesanya said, according to MMA Fighting. “I’ve been angry. I’m pissed off. How many of you walk into a store and have to put your hands behind your back just so they don’t think you’re stealing?”How many of you walk down the street and have to smile and try and make the person who you can see is already scared of you, make them feel comfortable?””I just moved and I’m on the top floor and I have to go in the elevator,” he said. “Three times already I’ve had to have racist, scared white people jump when they see me, and I smile at them.”So now I’ve got to stay to the side and let them walk through just so they don’t get scared when they see me. Why? Because I’m black. Just because I’m black. What did I do? I didn’t have a choice. If I had a choice, I’d still be black.”
Adesanya thanked white people for supporting Black Lives Matter
Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY / AFP
“We’ve been marching for so long,” he said. “But it’s not just about us now. Shout out to all the white people, all the people of different races being here because we need you. We need you to speak up. We need you to say something.”I’m sick and tired of seeing those faces get killed because guess what, I see myself in them. And it’s heartbreaking.”Watch Adesanya’s speech, which received raucous applause, here:—Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) June 1, 2020US President Donald Trump threatened “heavily-armed” military deployments Monday to quash protests if governors and mayors do not “establish an overwhelming law-enforcement presence” in their regions.
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