Many Americans are having serious discussions about race for the first time, but Bengals linebacker Jordan Evans has been talking about this for most of his life.
Evans’ father, Scott (who is a Cincinnati native and lifelong Bengals fan) is white, while his mother, Tenika, is black. Race is something that Evans has been aware of his entire life as a member of an interracial family.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I’m a political activist,” Evans said, via the Bengals’ website. “There are a lot of things I’m trying to educate myself on. This is something I’m passionate about. I feel like with our platform I have an opportunity to help and I feel like if I don’t use it then I’m wasting what god gave me.”
Tenika is a teacher in the Norman school system in Oklahoma, and Evans has the attention of Dr. Nick Migliorino, the superintendent of schools in Norman. Evans has a meeting with Dr. Migliorino later this month.
“Honestly, my dream is for the authentic history be taught,” Evans says. “We have certain curriculum that you have to follow in order to graduate high school or pass classes. Why is some of our curriculum (electives) when you can sit there and learn about diversity? People want diversity to work for us, but how can you expect people to know how to handle diversity if they’ve never been taught it? I think the way you learn about it is through the true history of other people. I feel like that’s a step to being able to understand each other, know each other’s history, know what people go through. That can help with some of the racism and ignorance we see today.”
Scott has been a huge influence on Evans’ life. Even though he is white, he taught his son what life would be like for a black, or biracial, person in America.
“Even though my dad’s white, he emphasized me knowing my culture at a young age,” Jordan says. “At the end of the day, he always told me we identify in Christ, but we do know the world is going to see me how the world is going to see me. They both made sure I was aware of that, whether it was dealing with cops or dealing with people. He always tried his best to make sure I knew the history of stuff and how to handle situations, along with my mom.”
When Evans has his meeting in Norman, he has some thoughts about what should be taught.
“American history. Native American history. Honestly, black history and American history should be intertwined. Obviously our origins are different. But being tied as a whole instead of being whitewashed in a sense.”