— Ravens Community (@RavensCommunity) November 22, 2019
Ronnie Stanley: Demand What's RightBy Ronnie Stanley
Photo: Baltimore Ravens
Ronnie Stanley is a former member of the Notre Dame Football Team. He is currently a starting offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens.
My parents always taught me to speak up for what’s right and to always be respectful. If I think something’s wrong, morally wrong, then they would never be mad at me for speaking up against it, or about it. So, growing up, I’ve always been like that.
Anytime I see something, I’m probably not going to be too afraid to say something.
Whether it was having conversations about the respect my peers and I deserved in the classroom and in our grades, or to coaches – if I didn’t feel something was right or someone was being treated fairly, or we didn’t have enough time to do a task in a timely fashion that made sense – I would always say something.
What I learned is that you’ll never regret speaking up for what’s right. There might be some consequences. There might be something that happens in the meantime, but I think in the grand scheme of things, you won’t regret doing that.
I was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2016. As I learned more and more about Baltimore over the years and how much attention the community really needs, I began to see how many things really need to be fixed out here. I definitely didn’t fully understand when I first came here, but over the years, you see more and more, and spend more time with the kids and people around the city.
So, I made the choice to jump in. I’ve been heavily involved in animal adoptions here, as well as The Baltimore Pumphouse, which is a project creating financial sustainability in black communities in Baltimore. I’ve joined my teammates on their charity events, like providing food and gifts to families around holidays, and I’ve gotten the opportunity to spend time with a lot of kids in the area.
This offseason, there was a lot of focus on working out and really, just football. There wasn’t too much of anything else to do, not being able to travel as much. However, it was a time that has been able to highlight these issues in our society that have been happening for so long, especially those of racial injustice.
Before, everyone’s lives were going, and people were busy all the time. Now, we are at a time and place where I feel like people are able to put their focus on these issues that have been overlooked by a lot of people.
During training camp, my teammates and I knew we had to stand up for what’s right, just like my parents taught me. Our coaches and the organization were right behind us.
It started out as a conversation about how we wanted to address the issue. We wanted to make sure we did something with a plan of action, and not loose words.
It was very collaborative. When we were forming our stance, we felt like we were giving something of substance. We didn’t feel performative. Everyone was brainstorming together, asking questions like, “How do we make this not too long, but make sure we get the points across that we really want?”
We finished with a message that called for action, and we followed it up with actions of our own. It wasn’t just a statement. We demanded social justice.
Statement from the Baltimore Ravens: pic.twitter.com/Q8kOzQ8qAZ
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 27, 2020
Ravens players and staff signed a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell urging him to bring the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 to the Senate floor for a vote. pic.twitter.com/3ZrsS1VNfY
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 31, 2020
Together, we donated a total of $1 million to 28 local organizations to support social justice reform. It’s not all we’re doing, but it’s how we started.
“I'm passionate about this, knowing the position I'm in and how blessed I am to be in a position to help people. I'm not going to forget about the people who are dealing with things that aren't fair. We have an opportunity to help make the world a better place, and I want to take advantage of that.”
The club has been in full support of what we’re fighting for. All the support that we’ve gotten from our whole staff, I thought that was really important for all our teammates to see, all the way up to Steve [Bisciotti, team owner]. It’s an ongoing effort.
What I hope comes out of this time is real, sustainable change, not only in the law and the judicial system, but in people’s mentalities. When it comes to stereotypes, things that start as jokes you hear as kids, but have much more deeply-rooted meanings, those things carry on, and that’s why we still see them in our society today.
We need to widen the lens of everything going on, because there can be ignorance on both sides. Racism is definitely a real thing. It’s definitely in all of our institutions, whether we know it or not, but you can’t fight it until you really understand the big picture. That’s the best way to fight it.
You see a lot of people on social media who either don’t seem to want to acknowledge the issue of race, or just truly don’t believe it’s real.
This time provides hope and momentum, but I hope that everyone, including the Ravens, including Notre Dame, including my high school – they’re making statements that they’re listening, but I really hope that they have no tolerance for any type of that behavior.
I hope they realize the deeply-rooted meaning behind stereotypes and discriminatory things that put black people in a box. I hope that they stand behind their words and really show that if you don’t believe in the things that we’re saying as black people, then they shouldn’t support those people in those institutions.