MJ Morris gave DawgNation the chance to learn what he is thinking and feeling right now with the national dialogue about race across America.
The Peach State QB (Carrollton HS/Carrollton, Ga.) was recently evaluated by long-time national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming to be the nation’s No. 1 QB prospect in the 2022 class. His stock is clearly on the rise and will continue to soar.
— Tom Lemming (@LemmingReport) June 5, 2020
He has a lot more visits to take but already feels that he has seen a great deal about Alabama, Auburn and Georgia at this time. Morris feels that he knows those schools very well.
There will be a forthcoming DawgNation update on all matters with his recruiting, but the more important matter here will be his feelings on race relations in America. He shared those with a sense of awareness, intelligence and conviction that goes beyond his 16 years of age.
He’s not the only elite QB prospect who has chosen to speak up.
Caleb Williams, the top-rated QB in the 2021 cycle, shared his thoughts about the death of George Floyd in a recent Sports Illustrated blog. It was a personal blog and the Washington D.C. metro area standout compared himself to Floyd.
“If you really think about it. Being a black, African-American, 18-year-old kid. It’s kind of crazy to think that I could be in that situation in this day and age. I could have been George Floyd, in the street with a white male on my neck while I’m begging for air. Kind of surreal. Kind of crazy.”
My dad has always told me, ‘If an officer ever pulls you over, hands on the dashboard. Ask before you do things, don’t just go and do things. Make sure he understands that you’re not trying to be harmed and you’re not trying to harm anyone.’ Watching the videos, watching the rioting, I feel for the people and I feel for their families. Also, the people going through it and that are connected to it.”
Morris had a different take.
“I respect all good police officers and I know they have a dangerous job but there is a small percentage that are bad and they’re causing great harm to my community and country,” Morris stated.
Morris had his own view of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
“As a Christian, I have always been taught that we were all created in God’s image and are all equal,” he told DawgNation. “Therefore ‘Black Lives Matter’ is not saying all lives don’t matter but it’s shining the light on me as a young black man. It is specifically addressing the brutality and senseless killing of unarmed black men. This movement will show people that black males are equal and we have just as much to offer if given an opportunity. This is bigger than football.”
It is an important subject. There is a lot of necessary conversation that needs to be out there. DawgNation recently chronicled the words of a parent of a member of the Georgia football team.
What is Morris going through right now? He answered the following questions for DawgNation.
DN: How have the events of the last two weeks affected you?
MM: ““It opened my eyes to the hate and brutality in certain people’s hearts. We hear and read about police brutality all the time but last week was just different. It made me more aware of my behavior and surroundings when around the police. Unfortunately, police brutality is a systemic problem in this country when concerning African-Americans.”
“Both white and black cops are guilty. For example, my dad makes us watch the news on a regular basis and the Mayor of Atlanta just fired six officers (five were black) for harassing and harming two black college students. This is sad because they were targeted and the police allowed the car in front of them which was occupied by white students to pass. Police targeted the black students because of their skin color, not knowing that the male was a Morehouse student and the female was a student a Spelman. I had a range of emotions towards last week’s events.”
“My initial reaction was fear for my father and all the adult African-American males in my life. I imagined them on that ground begging for their life. If it happened to Mr. Floyd it can happen to anyone of color. I also was shocked that something so brutal happened in front of other Americans. I know all police officers aren’t bad but those police officers had hate in their hearts and intentions to harm Mr. Floyd. They also didn’t care that Mr. Floyd’s murder was being filmed because they assumed there would no consequences for them committing murder. This is what is most disturbing about last week’s events.”
“My emotions then went to anger because there were people watching and there was nothing they could do. They were powerless as they watched a man screaming. He couldn’t breathe. If they would have intervened, they possibly could have been hurt or killed themselves. I was raised to respect authority but it’s hard to respect people when you view a murder in broad daylight. As I further processed last week’s events my emotions went to sadness due to Mr. Floyd no longer being here on earth.”
“His family will no longer be able to experience him and his daughter will grow up without a father to protect her in this cruel world. I can’t imagine growing up without my dad. As I further processed last week’s events, I became sad because my mother cried because she saw the fear in Mr. Floyd’s eyes as he was crying out to his mother because he knew he was dying. My mother is still sad because she knows I’m susceptible to police brutality and she can’t protect me when I leave home.”
DN: How have you been able to process it since?
MM: “I’ve been able to process last week’s events through family discussions. We’ve been discussing this every day. My dad is going to take us to a peaceful demonstration when he deems it is safe. History is happening before our eyes and I want to be a part of it. My parents feel Mr. Floyd’s senseless murder is a seed that will change America and I agree with them. The media is focusing on the looting but what’s not being discussed and what I’m most proud of is that the protests have been mainly young and black people working together.”
“My Dad says my generation will be the change needed in this country. Also, people may not know this but Terrence Edwards, Tony Ballard, coach Kevin Johnson, Quincy Avery, Ron Veal and coach Kevin Pope have maintained contact with my fellow athletes during this ordeal. They just want to make sure we are safe and I really appreciate that. It’s bigger than football.”
DN: What do you feel are the big issues our society needs to address?
MM: “I have to admit my parents have sheltered us from a lot the evil in this world. But during middle school at Pace Academy, we had to do a lot of community service work and It made me realize how blessed I am. We as a country have to do better about helping people and giving them opportunities to be successful.”
“With that being said, as a country we have to have an honest conversation about race and the inequalities in the economic and educational system. I spent my middle school years at Pace Academy and there’s just a difference in a private school education and some public school systems. Pace Academy taught me to be an entrepreneur and I could accomplish anything I wanted in life, while sometimes public schools teach black males to just be an employee. This has to change and is breeding anger in black youth because it puts limitations on their God-given potential.”
“Society also needs to address police brutality by making sure bad cops (both white and black) are charged and sent to jail for abuse of power. Even being filmed, the Minneapolis policemen did not deter their behavior because they didn’t deem they would receive consequences for their behavior. This has to change. No one is above the law.”
DN: Did your family have a previous dialogue about how to act around law enforcement?
MM: “My parents have always addressed race relations and police brutality long before Mr. Floyd’s murder. I’m going to be brutally honest with this answer. My dad always tells me that I was born with two strikes against me and I wasn’t allowed to make a mistake. I was born black and a male and in order to not strike out in life, I have to guard the plate.”
“Because of that, I was raised to be respectful, always work harder, and be two times better than my white peers if I want to live the American dream. They’ve also taught me that racism is an evil obstacle and I must not allow it to keep me from God’s will for my life. After Mr. Floyd’s murder, I have to admit my mother has become more protective and emotional. If I’m leaving the house, I have to check in more often.”
DN: What do more folks need to understand when it comes to growing up as a black athlete in America?
MM: “First of all, there are really good white and black people in this world. Just as there are bad white and black people in this world. Growing up black in America is dangerous because through media and education we are conditioned to see black males as dangerous and less deserving of opportunities that other Americans are handed.”
“The media often portray us as thugs or criminals because of the way we look. For example in my personal experience with football, white athletes who have long hair are not expected to cut their hair but I’m being told to cut my hair because certain schools may not recruit me because it portrays a negative image. I have long hair but I’m a hard worker. I have a 3.5 GPA in honors courses. My parents make us read and I do community service with my Dad. I just want to be judged by my character and work ethic. I believe it is the beliefs of these stereotypes of black males that leads to fear of us which leads to a lot of these senseless killings.”
Morris is not alone in a lot of these feelings. The words from Williams shared above also add to the discussion, along with a recent sentiment by a freshman OLB who just arrived at Georgia.
Mekhail Sherman shared a tweet recently that shows how he felt watching the events of the last two weeks unfold in our country.
Only thing that gon keep me safe in America is them shoulder pads & helmet💔
— Mekhail Sherman🌹 (@JuicedUpK9) May 30, 2020
DawgNation will continue to share stories and views, like the one presented here by Morris, that help add to the conversation about the national dialogue regarding racial inequality in America.