Full disclosure: We’re big fans of Jay Bilas here at Complex. Whether he’s breaking down why college athletes should be paid for us or giving us a glimpse at what his life is like during the NCAA Tournament, the ESPN analyst has always been a guy we could count on for some really reasonable thoughts and discussions.
That being said, even if we hadn’t worked with Bilas a bunch of times in the past, we would still appreciate the commentary he offered up on Black Lives Matter and the recent police shootings when Black Sports Online caught up with him on the red carpet at the 2016 ESPY Awards last Wednesday. A video of BSO’s interview with Bilas was released on Monday, and while it’s brief, Bilas was very clear about where he stands on the social issues impacting the country right now.
Here’s what he had to say:
I think supporting the police and holding the police to a high standard—that when the police break the law, they need to be held accountable in every instance, not just in certain instances—and then supporting the police when they do the right thing, those things aren’t mutually exclusive. It is not contradictory to support the thoughts and ideas behind the Black Lives Matter movement and supporting the police. You’re supporting the police when they do right, not when they do wrong. When they do right, they should be held accountable.
But for every person out there, I think it’s important to acknowledge that the experience for an African-American person is different than it is for a white person. If you don’t understand that, you’ve got to wrap your head around it to understand it, because it’s fact. This is not the way someone feels. It’s fact. And I think we need to have a really important and sustained conversation about it. But it needs to go beyond conversation and go to action, and it can’t be just the action of a movement. It’s got to be everybody. And not just our politicians. It’s got to be everybody, and I think it starts with each one of us in our own daily lives. Talking about winning over hearts and minds and all that stuff, that’s all great. But it starts with each one of us taking individual action.
BSO founder Robert Littal interviewed a handful of people about BLM, the police, and more at the ESPYs, but according to what he wrote when he posted the video on Monday, Bilas gave the best answer out of everyone:
Out of all the interviews I did, I thought Jay Bilas of ESPN has the best answer and the reason it was the best was because it used common sense.
Bilas obviously isn’t the first person to take the stance he took. Trevor Noah made some similar points on The Daily Show in early July, and many other people have expressed the same sentiments over the last few months. But it’s still pretty incredible to see Bilas break down such complex issues in about a minute without missing a beat. You can hear his explanation in the video above.