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James White on athletes speaking up in light of social protests: ‘It’s important to listen to one another’

Related: James White sees a Patriots team that is ‘locked in’ despite outside distractions

NFL: Preseason-Carolina Panthers at New England Patriots Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since social protests began all over the United States following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, athletes have started to speak out in favor of racial equality and increased police accountability. Among them also are numerous members of the New England Patriots, who helped introduce the topic into the team’s virtual meetings — from Devin and Jason McCourty, to Matthew Slater, to James White.

The latter just recently was asked about the topic during a short appearance during the Scholar Athletes Virtual Gala, a Massachusetts-based initiative whose goal is to bridge opportunity gaps and support academic achievement through athletics for urban public high schools. White was one of the celebrity guests invited to participate, and he answered questions about personal perseverance as well as the current calls for social justice.

“I think it’s very important, especially being a black athlete, to speak out on social injustices and things that are going on,” the 28-year-old said when asked about his thoughts on players voicing their opinions in light of the current protests. “I think it’s important that people hear our voices no matter how much money you make, no matter what occupation you do, some people are going to see you as just a black man in America.

“It’s important to speak out and let people know that black people have been oppressed for a long time and there are laws that need to be changed, there are people’s minds that need to be changed. I think it’s important for everybody to voice their feelings and listen to one another — it’s the only way things are going to get better,” White added.

The former fourth-round draft pick, who has been a part of three Super-Bowl-winning teams since arriving in New England in 2014, also shared a story about the challenges he personally faced during his time at the University of Wisconsin. White told a story about his positional battle with fellow Badgers running back — and future short-time Patriot — Montee Ball, and how losing it cast some doubt on his ability to perform at a high level.

“My dad and my mom, they kept me motivated and said, ‘Your time’s coming and when you get your opportunity you have to make the most of it. It’s just your time isn’t right now.’ I just had to stay the course, stay grinding, stay focused and that next year it got better for me, playing a little bit more,” White said. “You’ve just got to stay the course. It’s not always going to be your turn immediately — you’ve just got to stay patient sometimes.”

White has made the most out of his opportunities so far: he is entering his seventh season with the Patriots and has established himself as one of the best receiving backs in football. He also developed into a team leader in New England, that was voted a captain the last two seasons and is actively and openly expressing his thoughts not just on the developments on the gridiron but off it as well.