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IOWA CITY – Iowa defensive tackle Faith Ekakitie said a Nebraska player used a racial slur toward him early in the Cornhuskers-Hawkeyes football game Friday at Kinnick Stadium.
Ekakitie declined to identify the player or what precisely was said. He said he responded to the player.
'I feel like when it's that upfront and that weighing, then if you are just going to completely ignore it at the time you're a coward, in my opinion. Someone comes at you personally like that and decides to attack you, it's easy to say ‘I don't want to get confrontational and kind of ignore it.' But that's not just an attack on me, it's an attack on everyone else that is of my ethnicity. So I think you can't just ignore that kind of stuff.
'There's not a whole lot maybe I can do right then, but I'm going to let him know that's not OK, that's not right, that's not how your parents raised you. That's the most I can do in that moment.”
Ekakitie is a 23-year-old black man from Brampton, Ontario, who attended high school in Illinois. He is a fifth-year Iowa senior.
'I'm not going to come at you with racial slurs,” he said, 'and I won't expect you to come at me with racial slurs, either.”
He said he didn't tell teammates until later in the game, and then only told a few.
'Early on, I was kind of taken aback by it. It helped me get a little more fired up.
'Later on, I did tell a couple guys. I tried to let the situation calm down at first and move on from there. You can't let emotions get the best of you in the game of football. We did have a game to play.”
Ekakitie has dealt with sensitive situations well before.
In July, Ekakitie received national attention after writing on Facebook that he had guns drawn on him by Iowa City police in a local park because they said he fit the description of a bank-robbery suspect.
Ekakitie reacted calmly and after a few minutes, was free to go. He and law enforcement were praised by Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz for how they handled the situation.
'I would like (to) thank the Iowa City Police department for handling a sensitive situation very professionally,” Ekakitie wrote in July. 'I would also urge people to be more aware of their surroundings because clearly I wasn't. Lastly, I would urge us all to at least to attempt to unlearn some of the prejudices that we have learned about each other and now plague our minds and our society. I am convinced that in the same way that we learned these prejudices, we can also unlearn them.”
'It sounds like everybody just kind of handled a tough situation, a potentially dangerous situation, in a really mature way,” Ferentz told reporters at Big Ten media days in July. 'That's what you'd hope for. You hope everybody's got good intent, and it sure sounds like everybody did on this.
'I'm just really proud of the way Faith handled the whole thing. To me it's a great teaching example for everybody.”
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