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June 01, 2020

Harold Varner III writes letter on killing of George Floyd, calls for unity and social justice

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Katelyn Mulcahy

The killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis last week, and the national protests that followed, have led many of the biggest stars from the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB to use their platform to speak out against police brutality. One notable PGA Tour pro joined them on Monday.

Harold Varner III, in his fifth season on tour and one of three African-Americans (along with Tiger Woods and Cameron Champ) inside the top 200 on the Official World Golf Ranking, wrote a two-page statement that he shared via social media. The 29-year-old explained that he didn’t say something sooner not out of indifference, but because he wanted to first gather his thoughts before writing them down.

What Varner eventually wrote turned out to be an eloquent and passionate letter that addressed Floyd’s death and the rioting and looting that has occurred across the nation afterward. Varner’s statement, which he posted to his Twitter and Instagram accounts, can be read in full below:

To whoever wants to listen, I have so much that I want to say. Matter of fact, I’ve received more messages than ever before, mostly from people who wanted me to speak up immediately because of who I am. I AM BLACK. But it’s not helpful to anyone when impulsive, passionate reaction takes precedence over clear-minded thought. Yes, I’m angry. But I needed the time to put pen to paper and give y’all a proper message. So let’s go.

Here’s the obvious: George Floyd should still be alive. Absolutely. No doubt. End of story. This was a senseless killing—a murder—and, to me, it was evil incarnate.

There are objective truths in life. I think that’s one of them. But life is more nuanced than just a simple statement, and if there’s one thing that is emblematic of today’s society, I think it’s that we constrict ourselves to single-minded thought. It’s easy to do. But that ain’t life. You can be against a cop savagely killing a man and also have the perspective to say that burning businesses and police stations is wrong. You may say one is more or less severe than the other, but there again we must allow ourselves to go beyond this one-or-the-other mentality. Otherwise, we get stuck. We lose direction. Sadly, I think the media exacerbate the situation—with whatever motives they have—by implicating one side of a complex story. I will never denounce an entire race or group based off of a singular incident. I cannot justify that. Yes, the cop acted in the most horrific of ways. No, not all cops are like that. Yes, people are rightly angry. No, we don’t need to loot to make our point. In my heart, I know we’re a good country filled with good people. It’s time we start recognizing that.

Look, I grew up in Gastonia, N.C. I had nothing. No nice clothes, no lights, and, hell, sometimes no buck-fifty to eat lunch in high school. I bought my first pair of jeans when I was in college. And you know what? The people who pushed me to succeed were old white and black men at my local muni. They were the ones helping me with clothes, bills, and food. The white guys aren’t racist, and the black guys aren’t either. I would call myself lucky, but that’d be undermining everything I believe. I’m not insensitive to reality. I’m realistic about the innate good I see in people.

I know how hard it is to build something. I know it, man. Seeing justice for George Floyd turn into destruction and theft of businesses owned by African Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics, and all other ethnicities is disgusting. I will always be behind all African Americans who are subjected to racism. I will also be behind other ethnicities in the same way. But I will never support an aggressive reaction, especially against those who have poured everything into opening this restaurant or that shop.

Sometimes life is not simple and things don’t make sense. How can we call ourselves the greatest country on earth when our standards fall to senseless killing? That’s a tough an important question. But I still proudly say we aren’t as fractured as it seems.

I see good people. I pray alongside them for George Floyd and his family. And I also pray for our unity. We’re strong. We can go beyond the trap of one-dimensional thinking. Once we do, our eyes will see the righteous, our hearts will feel the love, and we’ll have done more to honor all those subjected to evil and its vile nature.

In his post on Twitter, Varner also added that “there is a lot of beauty and love in this world. I pray for equality and social justice as we all so desperately deserve that in this day and age. I pray for humanity even more because regardless of color, WE need each other to make that change. Stay safe. Love you guys.”

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