HOUSTON — Former Clemson star DeAndre Hopkins said he respects Tigers coach Dabo Swinney. The Houston Texans receiver also made it clear that he thinks Swinney’s recent comments about 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protest showed a lack of understanding.

“You can’t speak on something unless you’ve been put in that situation,” Hopkins told The Associated Press. “I wouldn’t speak on something about something else if I had no idea what was going on or how they felt because I couldn’t relate to it. So I don’t suggest anybody else do it.”

Swinney talked at length about Kaepernick’s protest Tuesday and said he wouldn’t discipline his players for protesting the national anthem because they have that right. However, that’s a moot point at Clemson because players remain in the locker room while the anthem is played.

The coach then added that he disagrees with Kaepernick’s protest because “it creates more divisiveness, more division.”

“I think there’s a better way,” Swinney said. “How about call a press conference? Express your feelings. Everybody will show up, talk about it. Go and be a part of things, and protest them. That’s great. I think everybody has that right. I certainly respect that. But I just think that this just creates more division. That’s what I hate to see.”

Hopkins grew up in Central, South Carolina and played at Clemson for Swinney from 2010-12. The Pro Bowl player wanted to be clear that he was not against Swinney, simply that it’s hard for someone in his position to understand things that black people go through.

Hopkins dealt with numerous incidents of racism growing up in South Carolina. He shared a story of going to a new school that was predominantly white as a middle schooler.

“I was getting called (the n-word) a lot and I just knew it was offensive and me being me I went to the principal and I told him: ‘These guys are calling me this name, what should I do,'” Hopkins said. “And the principal was a white guy and he said: ‘Get used to it, you’re going to deal with it your whole life.'”

Those words still linger with Hopkins all these years later and will probably never go away. That’s why he believes it’s best for those who don’t understand what it’s like to endure such things not to tell him or anyone else how they should combat racism.

“I think it’s hard to speak on something that you can’t relate to,” Hopkins said. “You can’t put yourself in other shoes because you’ve never been in poverty or in situations where you had people look at you and judge you because of your color.”

Kaepernick has protested what he says is the oppression of blacks and other minorities.


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