Cary Williams said he was hurt by Riley Cooper's racial slur, but also admitted that it is a difficult issue to get a handle on when African-Americans use the same word at times. (USA Today Images)
It’s not a simple issue, Cary Williams believes. It’s not an easy issue.
Williams spoke Thursday about the racial slur that Riley Cooper was seen screaming at an African-American security guard at a concert earlier this summer.
Not so much specifically about Cooper using the word at a Kenny Chesney concert, but about the word in general.
Williams, who is African-American, said the “N-word” gets “tossed around” by members of the African-American community and said there’s an element of hypocrisy in African-Americans being offended when a white person uses it while they use it themselves.
Williams won a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens last year before signing with the Eagles this offseason. He returned to practice Thursday after missing the last week with a hamstring injury.
“This is hard to talk about,” Williams said after practice. “It's tough, me being an African-American and for him to say that, hurts me.
“And then, at the end of the day, we look at … rap artists [and] some people in the locker room, that word gets tossed around. And what I think about my grandmother and my great-grandmother having to endure being called that name … and how the potency of the word can sometimes seem to get just thrown around like it's an every-day thing.
“We as a black community sometimes pounce on somebody who uses it in a derogatory way when there are times in the black community when we use it freely.”
Williams drew the ire of a lot of Eagles fans when he skipped a few weeks of voluntary offseason workouts this spring to have dental surgery, attend his daughter’s dance recital and have some work done at the home he’s building, including, famously, the selection of his sconces.
But he’s a thoughtful guy, and he placed Cooper’s racial slur in a different context Thursday than his teammates.
“I think there's no place for that word in anybody's language, in anybody's mouth or off anybody’s tongue, whether you're black, white, green, purple, blue,” he said. “It's still the same meaning, it's still a harsh word.
“And I think about what our ancestors have done, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, people who have fought for civil rights in this country, who fought against people using those types of words, those terms. And for us as a community, and sometimes in the locker room, it's thrown around just freely and then we get upset, somebody from the opposite race or different color says it.
“I think that's one thing we have to work on as a community as far as black people and just taking it out of our vocabulary.
“That has a little bit to do with this situation. But I still feel like it's a derogatory word. It's tough to get through, and I don't know him. But I did see the tape and it's disheartening for a guy to say something like that.
“I mean you're angry, but I just feel like it's several other words or things he could have said. Even if you use a different explicit word. He used something that was just over the top.”