A 17-year-old high school student made a striking statement about being black in America on the football field last week.
Tyreke Smith is a four-star defensive end at Cleveland Heights High School who has been recruited by Ohio State University, along with 11 colleges or universities. On Saturday, he showed up to a day-long camp at the university unapologetically wearing a T-shirt that read: “I hope I don’t get killed for being black today.”
Smith said his father and brother made the line of shirts and that he decided to wear it to camp as a way to use his platform to highlight the injustice black people face daily and “get the message across to people at the camp,” Smith told HuffPost.
“Honestly, it’s very sad to see people getting off easy for taking another human being’s life no matter what color he is,” Smith said. “It made me feel that I also can do something about what is going on with the platform I have.”
Smith said he was met with praise and positive responses from people on Twitter and at the practice, including the team’s coaches.
“All the reactions I received were positive, saying ‘I love the shirt, where did you get it?’ or ’that’s powerful man,” he said. “Coaches thought that the shirt was fine and that I had courage wearing it.”
While Smith still deciding where to attend school in the fall, he hopes that by wearing the shirt he is able to send a message to young people everywhere about the power of their voices and actions.
“I hope to send the message that it’s OK for young people to stand up and speak on what they believe in,” he said. “I want to get the message across to my own people that we need to cut down on the violence and have peace.”