Offensive Line Coach Conor Riley

Kansas State offensive line coach Conor Riley stands on the sideline during the team’s game against Bowling Green last season at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Riley said he’s had “uncomfortable conversations”with Black players and coaches at K-State in the wake of George Floyd’s death. He wants to become better educated about the struggles they’ve faced only because of the color of their skin.

Conor Riley pulled no punches from the jump.

Riley, Kansas State’s second-year offensive line coach, posted a message to his personal Twitter account Sunday night, pouring out his heart, in nearly 350 words, about the racial divide that still exists in the United States — and is back at the forefront of the country’s consciousness following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.

“I am outraged by the murder of George Floyd, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the murder of Breonna Taylor and the countless others who have been killed for the color of their skin,” Riley began. “I (mourn) for the families of the deceased and (mourn) for those who continue to live their lives in fear because of the color of their skin. I have read many other statements made by other whites who talk about ‘being better’ and ‘making a difference’ and I certainly hope they follow through, but not just when the unthinkable happens in way of a man being murdered in broad daylight by a white police officer.”

Riley challenged fellow white Americans to show solidarity with African-Americans — not just when demonstrators take to the streets of major American cities to demand equality.

“Speak up when it isn’t so blatant. Educate yourselves,” Riley wrote. “You can start with the history of racism in this country and how it continues still today. Ask yourself if you are indifferent to other forms of racism that our country, and our systems, continue to perpetuate. Have empathy for others because they are people and not be OK with labels like ‘THUGS’ or ‘ALIENS.’ We are all HUMANS. Do not tolerate statements like, ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts.’”

Riley said going forward, he will make a point to stand up for what is right. One such example, he said, was supporting those “who choose to take a knee,” an act started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Being white, Riley said, affords him a certain status based on nothing other than his race.

“I recognize more and more how privileged I am based on the color of my skin,” he wrote. “I will not stand down, I will not just stick to football, I will not be indifferent. I will strive to do better and make a more lasting impact on someone else’s life and not for ulterior motives.

“Because of my privilege I will do this and I certainly hope everyone else who is now speaking up will do the same, especially when it isn’t as popular. I regret it has taken another string of tragedies for me to speak up, but no more.”

He then ended his message as forcefully as he began.

“These are my beliefs and represent who I am,” Riley wrote. “If this offends you, right after you unfollow me, I encourage you to go take a look in the mirror.”

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