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OPEN DIALOGUE: Andrean grad, Goshen College guard Colin Flowers wants justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor
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OPEN DIALOGUE

OPEN DIALOGUE: Andrean grad, Goshen College guard Colin Flowers wants justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor

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Colin Flowers -- Goshen College/Andrean

Goshen College guard Colin Flowers, a 2016 Andrean graduate, shot a team-high 85.4% at the free throw line during the 2019-20 campaign. As he prepares for his senior season with the Maple Leafs, Flowers has been very outspoken about the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who were killed by police officers.

Goshen guard Colin Flowers will not stay silent — not after what happened to George Floyd. The 2016 Andrean alum speaks his mind on racial injustice in America, why black women can't be overlooked and how athletes can use their platforms for change as told to James Boyd:

Honestly, I was probably about 10 years old when I started to realize and learn that I may be treated differently because I'm black. And initially, it wasn't really because my parents warned me about it. It was from just observing everything. I remember being dropped off at the mall on Saturdays with my friends and then being followed around the store or food court — as if I was expected to commit a crime.

I was about 13 or 14 at the time. That's when I really started having those talks about race with my parents. After that, I always made sure I was aware of where I was and who I was with and how I may be perceived.

But even then, I never really felt the need to speak up until George Floyd was killed. That changed everything, and honestly, there's a simply reason why.

It didn't faze me.

I saw it and thought, "Well, this is an everyday thing." But when I began to notice how numb I was to the tragedy I had just witnessed, I got mad. I mean, how could I — as a black man — be numb to the death of another black man? That moment of self-reflection really showed me that I have to do something. I'm still trying to figure out what that exactly is, but either way, I'm more than willing to use whatever platform I have to push for change.

When I watched the video for the first time, it's like I already knew what was about to happen because we've seen it so many times before. That still didn't make it any easier, though. It was one of those things where I just watched it one time and never watched it again. It was really hard to take in because at the end of the day, I realized that could have been me or that could have been my dad or my cousins or my uncle. And the same thing could have happened to a black woman, as well, because they're also dealing with police brutality and racial injustice.

So although I'm blessed to not personally be in that situation, I still have to remember that George Floyd was a real person, and what happened to him shouldn't happen to anyone.

That's still somebody's son. That's still somebody's dad.

No matter what they're saying, I'm 100% certain that if that white police officer didn't kneel on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, George Floyd would still be alive. There is no doubt in my mind.

Anybody who is trying to justify what happened, they're basically saying that whatever mistake he made outweighed his right to live, and that's just not right. Obviously, if he was out here harming people or killing people then that significantly changes the situation. But he was arrested for allegedly using a fake $20 bill.

You mean to tell me his life is only worth $20?

I can't accept that.

At the end of the day, we know police officers have to enforce the law, but that doesn't mean those same laws don't apply to them.

I think that's one of the most infuriating parts about this entire movement. All we want is justice. That's why we keep saying, "Black lives matter." We have to. Otherwise some people will try to dismiss us, and honestly, they're already doing that.

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What confuses me the most is that some of the white people I've been around that have treated me with respect and kindness can't even bring themselves to say it — to say "Black lives matter." I know for a fact they're not racist, so I think more than anything it's just complete ignorance when they try to correct me and say, "All lives matter."

Sure, that sounds good. But in reality, how can all lives matter if one race is being left out? Black people are getting killed every day at an alarming rate by those who are supposed to protect us, and some people won't even acknowledge it. That's where the gap is right now. It's with those people who just choose to ignore it.

There's nothing wrong with being a patriot and being proud of the United States. But you also have to be willing to speak up when the place you love so much isn't living up to its ideals.

So again, we have to keep saying "Black lives matter," until this country actually proves it. Of course America is a lot better than many other places, but that doesn't make it perfect. That doesn't excuse the over 400 years of oppression black people have dealt with here.

That's why I'm so invested in this. It's been long overdue.

In addition to George Floyd and other unarmed black men that have been killed by the police, I want to make sure black women like Breonna Taylor aren't forgotten either because they deserve justice, too. This fight for equality is for her just as much as it is for any other black person. It's still crazy to me that she was killed in her own apartment while she was asleep, and the three white police officers that did it are still roaming free.

How is that even possible?

I think cases like that are a big reason why this movement hasn't slowed down and why so many people feel compelled to take action. You have a lot of young white people out here right now protesting and going against what their parents and grandparents have been teaching them, and they're standing up for what's right. They want to see justice because they're tired of their peers being targeted.

Andrean's Colin Flowers -- Open Dialogue

Former Andrean guard Colin Flowers, center, averaged 12.5 points per game during his senior season with the 59ers in 2015-16. He now plays at Goshen College and has been having conversations with Maple Leafs men's basketball coach Jon Tropf about racial injustice in America.

And then for young black people, we're just tired of being mistreated and having to go through the same things our parents and grandparents have went through. I know for my specific age group, we're even starting to think about having families, and of course we want our kids to grow up in a world that's way different than the one that exists now.

Sometimes I wish I could just escape it all, and I'm thankful that basketball has served as an outlet for me. But during those times when I just really need to talk, as a black athlete, I'm very fortunate to play for a program that encourages me to speak my mind.

At Goshen College, coach Jon Tropf is as real as they come. Throughout this whole pandemic and amidst the ongoing protests, we've been talking back and forth constantly with other players on the team about how we can make things better. I never have to worry about keeping quiet in order to protect my basketball career, and I know that's not a luxury that a lot of black athletes have.

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But like I said, even as a white man, coach Tropf is all for it. He's actually been trying to learn more. He's always asking me questions and asking me how I feel. Sometimes he'll hear something and be like, "What do you think about this, Colin?" And that mean's a lot. It shows that he truly cares, and that he's a real Christian. His faith matches his actions.

I think coach Tropf understands that athletes are much more than just the sports they play. They still have real lives with real problems. And as much as some people try to dismiss it, let's be honest. If a famous athlete speaks up about a particular issue, what they say will go a lot further than a regular Joe, especially if they have a lot of fans or kids that look up to them. It creates a lot more dialogue and potential change.

In this country, sports are often looked at as a common ground. All different types of people are able to come together for one common goal, and we see it all of the time when a team wins a championship.

So, if it works so well during competition, why can't it also work in life outside of it?

Sometimes I get frustrated because the solution seems so simple, yet nothing seems to be changing. But whenever I start to get overwhelmed, I just pray that God helps my faith take over my emotions, rather than having my emotions take over my faith.

No matter what happens, I know I can't give up. It's just not in my blood. My maternal grandmother, she was a part of the sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina. She got arrested and went to jail for what she knew was right. And then with my parents, they grew up in Gary when it was still pretty much a segregated city, so I just know that I have to keep it going.

We deserve more, and it's time for more.

Some white people will never see where black people are coming from, but we're not asking for anything special. All we want is justice.

Justice for George Floyd. Justice for Breonna Taylor.

Justice for all black people — even before they take their last breath.

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Lake County Sports Reporter

James Boyd is the Lake County prep sports reporter for The Times. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a proud native of Romeoville, Illinois. Before anything else, his main goal in life is to spread love and light.

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