Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman has a platform and on Wednesday he used it to reach out to Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard after Leonard used an anti-Semitic slur on Twitch.
While many people were upset and lashed out at Leonard via social media, and justifiably so, Edelman, who is Jewish, decided to take the chance to help Leonard learn from his mistake and understand how truly hurtful anti-Semitism can be.
"So we've never met, I hope we can one day soon," Edelman wrote in his post. "I'm sure you've been getting lots of criticism for what you said. Not trying to add to that, I just want to offer some perspective. I get the sense that you didn't use that word out of hate, more out of ignorance. Most likely, you weren't trying to hurt anyone or even profile Jews in your comment. That's what makes it so destructive. When someone intends to be hateful, it's usually met with great resistance. Casual ignorance is harder to combat and has greater reach, especially when you command great influence. Hate is like a virus. Even accidentally, it can rapidly spread. I'm down in Miami fairly often. Let's do a Shabbat dinner with some friends I'll show you a fun time."
This isn't the first time Edelman has used his voice in an attempt to bring forth a healthy dialogue and chance to learn. Just last season Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson had an anti-Semitic post on social media and Edelman reached out and invited Jackson to the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
He later told members of the media "I just wanted to not only show that I support my community but also show that I'm here to help people in my league, because we're all one."
In response to Leonard's use of the slur his Twitch account has been shut down, Origin PC canceled his sponsorship, and the Miami Heat have stated Leonard will "be away from the team indefinitely." There has yet to be any formal fine or suspension from the team or the league, but the NBA has stated that they are investigating the matter.
There is zero room for hate speech. Anywhere. Ever. But there is room for healing and growth. Leonard deserves to deal with the consequences of using that slur. He also deserves a chance to learn from it and hopefully use his newfound knowledge to help the community he hurt.
Edelman reaching out is the first step. Hopefully, Leonard reaches back.