The death of George Floyd has sparked outrage across the United States. Since then, there have been protests across the country.
Celebrities are being called out for doing blackface and brands like Aunt Jemima are under fire as well. People are calling for action against systematic racism and are standing in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Closer to home, a video surfaced on Twitter that shows a former Pitt State student-athlete yelling ‘white power’ and using racial slurs.
The former student has been identified as Baylor Maxwell who was a freshman on the football team.
Pittsburg State posted the following message on all of their social media platforms.
“We are aware of a video circulating on social media that shows a former Pittsburg State football student-athlete making overtly racist comments. This individual was dismissed from the university earlier this spring. While this individual is no longer a student at Pittsburg State, we are outraged by the sentiments expressed in the video. We have absolutely zero tolerance for hate and bigotry. Racism has no place at Pittsburg State University, and we will continue to do whatever we can to ensure that everyone feels safe and welcome on our campus and in our community. We must all do better for one another, for all of society.”
Maxwell addressed the video in a post he made on Twitter.
“Hi, I’m Baylor Maxwell,” Maxwell wrote. “I am the individual in the video that surfaced this morning. The video was taken four years ago when I was 15 years old and messing around with some of my life-long Caucasian and African-American friends and teammates. The video displays conduct of a foolish kid that neither thought about or could comprehend the pain or anger that it may inflict on others. For those of you that know me, understand that this video does not reflect the person that I am. I am terribly sorry for the hurt that I have caused, and I hope you can accept my sincere apologies. I understand that my actions, regardless of age, come with consequences and I promise to be better and more thoughtful of m y conduct in the future. Thanks for giving me a chance to be heard.”
However, some people didn’t think the message was genuine and took to Twitter to call Maxwell out. One user wrote that it doesn’t change the fact that he’s racist while another pointed out that there were no African Americans in the video.
In an interview with the Collegio, Maxwell said he doesn’t know how he could “…make them believe…” the message that he posted on Twitter.
“…That was… four years ago,” Maxwell said. “That’s all I know for sure. I’m not even the same person… All I have to say is that was just a long time ago. Me and my buddies were… immature or whatever. My friends of color they’d always say racist stuff to me, and I’d like say stuff back to them basically, just like messing around. Like we never meant anything by it or anything, we were just young and dumb.”
Pittsburg State is a very racially diverse campus, and many student athletes on the football team are African American.
“I love all of them,” Maxwell said. “I have nothing against them and that I’m sorry it had to go down like this and this had to happen to the team and stuff.”
Maxwell wouldn’t comment on the reason he was dismissed from the University but said that he guesses it had something to do with the video.
“…I had plenty of friends down in Pitt and they knew I wasn’t like that, I guess,” Maxwell said. “I’ve grown up with color all around me honestly… I talked to all my other buddies in Gardner after the video came out and everything and they understood I wasn’t like that. If you actually knew who I was, you would understand but I mean honestly everyone that’s seen that video that’s their first impression on me. So, they really don’t know who I am I guess.”
D’André Phillips, President of the Black Student Association, says he knew Maxwell and interacted with him on campus at PSU.
“…I just want to make clear that my opinion or my feelings for that video reflects nothing of PSU or any of the organizations I’m in, it only reflects my personal opinion,” Phillips said. “So, that person in that video I actually knew through one of my jobs at PSU… It was very disappointing to say the least. That video in my experience just goes to show people this idea of systematic racism or hidden racism, like I like to say, there are people who are in high elected positions or people who are just every day neighbors who will smile in your face but deep inside they hate you just because of your skin color. That’s very disappointing because I… am a person of color, you see my skin color every day. I can make myself as likable as possible, I can do all the greatest things in the world, help out many people, do community service, etcetera, do all these things to make myself the best human possible and all of that is disregarded just because of my skin color. People who are hidden racists or just racist in general are too afraid to even have those conversations. They’re too afraid to ask themselves… why do you hate me, me being a person of color? Why can’t you just have a conversation with me? Why can’t we coexist? It’s 2020. You need to heal and march forward but that can only happen when these racist people come forward and are willing to have those conversations and change their ideals. So, the video was just disappointing. I thank PSU for their actions against it but also, I don’t want them to just expel the kid. I want them to still have that conversation with him because just expelling him isn’t going to change his point of view or make him understand that he was in the wrong. You have to have that conversation with people of color.”
Brian Wright, Head Football Coach, also took to Twitter to respond to the video.
“The video of a former Pittsburg State football athlete circulating today is appalling and does not represent the views of our program,” Wright wrote. “We have a zero-tolerance approach to hate, racism, and bigotry of any kind. This type of mindset will never have a place within our team, and we stand in support of all people across this nation regardless of race, religion, gender, and socioeconomic status. We will continue to do our part to ensure our team and Pittsburg State University is a safe place where student-athletes can thrive. As coaches, I believe it will always be our duty to educate our current and past players of the real-life issues that exist in our country and promote the change that needs to happen to rid this world of all racism.”
George Sanders, assistant football coach, also responded to the video via Twitter.
“Bigotry is not who WE are,” Sanders wrote. “We have all kinds of student-athletes and coaches from different walks of life and we will take a stand to make sure they can walk through Pitt State proud of who they are and free from discrimination!”