Music

Thomas Rhett Speaks Out on Racial Injustice: 'We Have to Continue to Educate Ourselves'

Willa Gray Akins, from left, Ada James Akins, Thomas Rhett, and Lauren Akins arrive at the 53rd annual CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Several country music acts used their platforms over the weekend to speak out against racism and to honor the memory of George Floyd, an African American man who died in Minneapolis, Minnesota while being detained by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

A statement by Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren Akins on social media has an added feeling of urgency because the couple's oldest daughter, 4-year-old Willa Gray, was adopted from Uganda. The couple's also parents to 2-year-old Ada James and three-month-old Lennon Love.

"As the father of a black daughter and also two white daughters- I have struggled with what to say today," Rhett wrote. "We have navigated forms of racism directly and while there is mostly overwhelming support and love for our family, sometimes there is just the opposite. Because of that fear, it can be a lot easier to choose silence, but today I'm choosing to speak.

"I have no clue what it feels like to be profiled by authorities, treated negatively or have my life threatened because of the color of my skin," he continues. "When I witnessed the horrific murder of George and think about the mistreatment of other black men and women in America, I am heartbroken and angry. I get scared when I think about my daughters and what kind of world they will be growing up in and how my JOB as a father is to show them how to lead with love in the face of hate. To know their worth and value as not only women but human beings."

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As the father of a black daughter and also two white daughters- I have struggled with what to say today. We have navigated forms of racism directly and while there is mostly overwhelming support and love for our family, sometimes there is just the opposite. Because of that fear, it can be a lot easier to choose silence, but today I’m choosing to speak. I have no clue what it feels like to be profiled by authorities, treated negatively or have my life threatened because of the color of my skin. When I witnessed the horrific murder of George and think about the mistreatment of other black men and women in America, I am heartbroken and angry. I get scared when I think about my daughters and what kind of world they will be growing up in and how my JOB as a father is to show them how to lead with love in the face of hate. To know their worth and value as not only women but human beings. I have witnessed my black band and crew members on the road struggle at times with feeling safe because of the color of their skin. This is unacceptable. I don’t believe in hate. I believe in love. What happened to George was pure hate. We are all created by the same God. I pray for a change in heart of those hearts who have been overcome by hatred and hardened. I pray for a deeper understanding for myself and awareness of the experience of mistreatment that those of another skin color go through. I pray for the families of those who have lost their lives to violence or experienced trauma at the hand of racial oppression and injustice. What can we do? I ask myself this question everyday. We each have to be part of the solution and we have to continue to educate ourselves, continue to support both financially and with service those organizations doing good work in our communities to overcome injustice and hatred in our country. And if you’re like me, continue to pray. So if there is any question on where I stand let me be clear- I stand with you, I stand with George and his family and all those who have faced racism. I stand with my wife and my daughters. We will be fighting this fight for the rest of our lives. Rest In Peace, George. We are not letting this go.

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Rhett briefly mentioned that his road family family faces racism while on the job.

"I have witnessed my black band and crew members on the road struggle at times with feeling safe because of the color of their skin," he adds. "This is unacceptable."

The country singer closed his statement championing prayer and acceptance as powerful weapons.

Read More: Watch Maren Morris' Emotional First Performance of 'Dear Hate'

"I don't believe in hate. I believe in love," Rhett wrote. "What happened to George was pure hate. We are all created by the same God. I pray for a change in heart of those hearts who have been overcome by hatred and hardened. I pray for a deeper understanding for myself and awareness of the experience of mistreatment that those of another skin color go through. I pray for the families of those who have lost their lives to violence or experienced trauma at the hand of racial oppression and injustice.

"What can we do? I ask myself this question everyday," he adds. "We each have to be part of the solution and we have to continue to educate ourselves, continue to support both financially and with service those organizations doing good work in our communities to overcome injustice and hatred in our country. And if you're like me, continue to pray. So if there is any question on where I stand let me be clear- I stand with you, I stand with George and his family and all those who have faced racism. I stand with my wife and my daughters. We will be fighting this fight for the rest of our lives. Rest In Peace, George. We are not letting this go."

Other country acts to speak out over the weekend include Maren Morris, Dan + Shay, Midland, Old Dominion and Shania Twain.

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Thomas Rhett Speaks Out on Racial Injustice: 'We Have to Continue to Educate Ourselves'