Going out to schools and speaking to kids can be an uphill battle. Minutes of speaking and building up their support and interest can easily go to waste in seconds after saying a couple of the wrong things. Jameis Winston, quarterback for the Tampa Bay Bucaneers, learned this the hard way recently.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that Winston went out to speak to a group of third- to fifth-graders at Melrose Elementary in St. Petersburg, Fla. about his three core values: “God, school and the idea that ‘I can do anything I put my mind to.'”
This is a wonderful message to give kids. Unfortunately, Winston didn’t intend for it to apply to all kids. Just the boys.
“All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down,” Winston said to the audience. “But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to. Now a lot of boys aren’t supposed to be soft-spoken. You know what I’m saying? One day y’all are going to have a very deep voice like this (in deep voice). One day, you’ll have a very, very deep voice.
It gets worse. A lot worse.
“But the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men (are) supposed to be strong. I want y’all to tell me what the third rule of life is: I can do anything I put my mind to. Scream it!”
I’ll let you take a few moments to re-read that and gather yourself.
… Are we good? Okay.
What just happened was that a man whose probably viewed as a hero to these kids came and told a room full of girls that they’re supposed to be “silent, polite, gentle” and went as far as to imply that they aren’t strong. That should never be the case.
“I was making an effort to interact with a young male in the audience who didn’t seem to be paying attention, and I didn’t want to single him out so I asked all the boys to stand up,” Winston later explained. “During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some.”
Do all of the backpedaling you want by claiming that you chose the wrong phrasing or the wrong way to go about affirming the young boys in the room. The fact of the matter is that this entire interaction stems from an attitude based on inaccurate gender roles.
These kids aren’t even 10 years old in some cases, yet they’ll likely always remember the day that an NFL player came in and made all the girls sit down while the boys were forced to stand in support of the privilege they don’t even realize they have yet.
This is the same Jameis Winston who was accused of rape and later settled outside of court, a fact that many have connected to his horrible advice to young women this week.
Watch the video below: