Christian NFL star Benjamin Watson has shared his thoughts on race relations in America and called for unity in the wake of the shooting deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and five Dallas police officers.
During a recent appearance on "The Kelly File", the Baltimore Ravens tight end and author emphasized that the United States needs a "change of heart" when it comes to race.
"And I've said before that the heart change comes from repenting of your racism, repenting of your bias, repenting of your prejudice and understanding that God sees us all the same," he said.
Sharing some of his own personal experiences, Watson contended that young black men in America quickly come to learn that "life is a little bit different" for them.
"We grow up understanding that you comply with the police, that your leash is a little bit shorter," he said.
Even though he's an NFL star, Watson said that he's gotten pulled over and worried that something could happen to him, even though he's a law-abiding citizen: "We're still in a place where we still struggle," he said.
Nevertheless, the athlete called for understanding on both sides and said that while racial profiling is certainly an issue, everyone - not just black men - must listen to and respect law enforcement, who "we need."
"When a police officer asks you to do something, do it," he said. "Our job as citizens is to obey what the police officers say. The police officers' job is to respect their citizens that they pull over and they are in control of."
Following the killing of police officers by Micah Johnson, a black man who said he "wanted to kill white people" and two officer-involved shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota last week, Watson explained what the term "Black Lives Matter" means to him and called for unity across America.
"At times in my life I've felt that black lives didn't matter to some white people or even some black people. I've even believed the myth that my life somehow wasn't as important as my white classmates, teammates and friends," he wrote in a Facebook post. "Whether we are totally naïve or if we intentionally promote such a message, by listening and watching closely we will easily see that in many ways black lives don't matter."
Watson also listed examples that reveal the many ways black lives aren't being valued in America, such as the lack of education concerning black history, colorism within the black community, black on black crime, biased media coverage, and negative experiences with police.
The athlete stressed the importance of being intentional in creating interracial bonds and allowing God alone to determine the value of people, all of whom are created in His image.
"Black Lives Matter when all lives know their God given, intrinsic worth and realize that men foolishly look on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. That's when we will no longer let these injustices define us or continue to perpetuate the attitudes, actions, and assumptions that force us to raise our voices and scream about whose lives matter," he wrote. "So historically, and in many ways presently, black lives don't matter, but so what. We make them matter where they don't."