Breaking it down: Lockette speech that led to a student walkout

Dec 7, 2016, 1:37 PM | Updated: Dec 8, 2016, 11:30 am

Ricardo Lockette...

Ricardo Lockette. (AP)


Update: Ricardo Lockette appears to have responded via social media to the controversy stemming from his speech to a group of Garfield High School students. On Thursday, Lockette posted a note on Instragram with an introduction that read: “Addressed to whom it may concern: this is what I was speaking on and why and I felt it was totally appropriate. There is strength in knowledge and numbers. Love you all #Rockette.”

Original story: There are a couple days in the life of Ricardo Lockette that didn’t go as planned. The first was Nov. 1, 2015, when the former Seahawk nearly died from an in-game neck injury, ending the wide receiver’s NFL career.

Tuesday was another day that did not go as planned.

Related: Ricardo Lockette shares love, thanks at ‘We Day’ in Seattle

The ex-Seahawk was invited to a Garfield High School assembly, where he urged men to stand up for women. The speech was part of the school’s push to promote leadership among student-athletes. A junior volleyball player identified by The Seattle Times as Julia Olson, raised concern with some of the remarks and was among a group of females who reportedly walked out of the speech.

KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz and Zak Burns broke down the comments, which were obtained by KOMO News:

Lockette: These women, they look up to you. Not only are they cheering for you and supporting you when you do all these things, so how can you expect someone to support you if you don’t support them? If someone came in your house and your dad was there and someone talked bad to your mom, or did this and that, what would you expect your dad to do? Say something. Exactly. Exactly. If your dad just went in the room and was like, ‘Alright, hunny, you handle that.’ You wouldn’t respect him at all.

Rantz: It starts innocently enough, even if it wasn’t artfully delivered. He’s essentially saying you have the duty to stand up and when you see someone in an unfortunate position, to be a leader.

Burns: Had this been a speech delivered to only boys there would have been no objections, but the fact that there were females in the audience that he seemed to diminish by only calling out the boys to be leaders, is what led to his problems.

Jullia Olsen: Why can’t women stand up for themselves?

Lockette: Even though you can handle your own, but as men — men stand up; men take the challenge; men take the lead; men take the head. Women can also do the same, but you would never respect any man if he never takes the lead; if he never shows you any authority; if he never shows you that he’s, he’s a king, that you would never respect him.

Rantz: In context of how he was saying this speech, I don’t think he meant it as women being subservient to the men in your life. That’s not how he meant it. Super poor choice of words, though.

Burns: Very poor choice because those words indicate dominance and submission. If you’re the king, you dominate over the queen. If you show authority, somebody has to respect that authority. That, I think, from what he is saying there would indicate to be the women.

Rantz: But we both agree based on the context of the statements, we don’t think that’s what he meant.

Burns: If I were tasked with tearing into Lockette and his speech, I could do that, for sure. I could show how antiquated his thinking is, how ingrained it is in the modern male. I could do all that but I don’t think that that’s Ricardo Lockette’s heart, and I don’t say that because I’m trying to be an apologist for the Seahawks on the home of the Seahawks. It’s what I truly believe.

Lockette: Do you believe that you can do everything by yourself?

Olsen: I don’t need a man in my life to tell me what I can and can’t do.

Rantz: She is clearly on the offense against him. He, at no point, suggested that men tell women how to act.

Burns: What I think he was trying to say was that it’s not necessarily divided by gender lines, that people need to help people. Whether female friend or male friend, you will need help and you will need help of others to be a success in this world.

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Lockette: It’s totally great to be confident, but you can’t do everything by yourself. If this room, if this school, was totally all women … what would you do? You can’t run, run your world with just women; it’s impossible — it’s impossible. Just like if it was all men. We wouldn’t be able to do it. We need each other. Like I said before, we all we got, we all we have.

Rantz: He only runs into problems because he made it gendered, but what he said is totally true. The basic point is we need to work together: all women can’t stick together, all men can’t stick together. The message is a strong one, and one we should all agree with. The way he did it was not cohesive with what he was clearly intending to say.

Burns: I can hear the moment that the student questioning him has her eyebrows raised. When he points out if it was an all women school you wouldn’t get much done, though later he does also add how it would be the same at an all-boys school.

Rantz: It’s in the very next sentence, the next second. I think he’s right. Even that aspect of the word choice, I don’t fault him at all. I think people who aren’t taught to be hyper-sensitive to microaggressions wouldn’t have jumped on him. I think you have to be trained to jump on him the way.

Lockette: She’s saying you don’t need men to run this and you don’t need men to do this, but if your daddy wasn’t there then you wouldn’t be in that chair. If your granddad wasn’t the man that he was then you wouldn’t have to be in that chair.

Burns: I’m not sure what he’s saying there. Like, biologically? Without them they wouldn’t be there? He’s flailing.

Rantz: I think he’s reacting to his position that women can do everything on their own and they don’t need men at all. He’s saying there are important men in everyone’s life and you’re here because of important work by men in your life. That’s my guess as to what he’s saying because, I agree with you, he’s clearly off-script at this point and he’s trying desperately to get back on that talking point that he was prepared for.

Burns: You kind of just wish that someone’s next question was like, ‘Hey, you want to have a catch or something.’ Just something to get back to football message.

Lockette: There would be no such thing as Julia, there would be no such thing. If there wasn’t a man to make your mom feel comfortable, then you wouldn’t be here. If there wasn’t a man to open the door for your mom, then you wouldn’t be here.

Burns: Oh no.

Rantz: Now he’s going into the ‘I can’t defend what he said.’ Even though I think he’s coming from the right place, I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind the chivalry argument, which is really what he’s making.

Final thoughts on Lockette

Lockette finished speaking after the walkout. A Seattle Times reporter reached out to Lockette afterward. He said the speech “went great,” and by the end, “we agreed at what we’re saying.”

Burns: I think he wanted to send a message more to the guys, but he didn’t do it artfully. I think he sees inadequacies in his own community and the problem is, he made the women feel like they’re failing. And that’s when the female students started to object because the thought is that it doesn’t matter how well you men are doing for us, we can do it ourselves.

Rantz: He wasn’t saying women can’t do it themselves. I think he was taking a specific issue with boys and saying they are not stepping up and behaving in a way that they should be behaving.

Burns: If you lose to an adult heckler it’s humiliating. You got owned by a high school student is way worse. If he does a speech like this again, you know he’s going to have others look over that script before he decides to deliver it.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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Breaking it down: Lockette speech that led to a student walkout