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San Jose Earthquakes’ Jacob Akanyirige: “We all need and deserve change”

Wise words from the teenager.

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Protests have been taking place for over a week now around the country and world in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a now-ex police officer last week. It’s a time of reflection, learning, protesting and action.

Voices around MLS have spoken up in recent days, and among them is 18-year-old San Jose Earthquakes defender Jacob Akanyirige. In his third season, the homegrown player is awaiting his MLS debut, having played for the Quakes’ USL affiliate, Reno 1868 FC.

Still one of the youngest players on the Earthquakes team, Akanyirige shared some thoughts about the current situation and the quest for equality and justice on the club’s website.

More from Akanyirige:

In the past few weeks the whole world has watched as Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd have been murdered. One black man is killed for being black, and a few weeks later the same thing happens again.

This is a dangerous cycle that’s been going on for hundreds of years in America and all over the world. We all need, and deserve change in this world and we are the only ones that can make that happen.

Nobody should ever have to be treated differently, let alone lose their lives just because of the way they look.

But at the end of the day, I’m still a black person in this country and I’m proud of that and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

On one hand, it’s heartbreaking for an 18-year-old to have to publicly reckon with these ideas. Sure, he’s an adult but he’s so young. On the other hand, it is important to have voices of all kinds speak up at this time, and his words are powerful.

I hope you heed his words and advocate for positive change in our world.