Shad Khan came to America in 1967 with the dream of creating a successful life for himself.
He's achieved that -- likely beyond his wildest imagination -- but as the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars wrote Wednesday in an op-ed published on the team's website, Khan knows the country in which he became wealthy is still rife with prejudice, discrimination and hatred that manifests itself in the form of racist language and actions. He's seen it countless times during his life in America, which began when he came to the United States from Pakistan, and he saw it again in the recent killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
"The events of the past 10 days have been alarming and disheartening," Khan wrote. "Alarming because we know the history of systemic inequity that brought us to this point, not only with the recent killing of George Floyd and other African Americans in our country, but also the disproportionate impact the coronavirus has wreaked in communities of color. Disheartening because this familiar sequence of killing, followed by protest and civic unrest, followed by inactivity and silence, occurs ever more frequently in our nation.
"The video capturing the final moments of George Floyd's life offers the latest horrific evidence of injustice that is all too prevalent in the U.S. No families in this country should have to go to bed at night worrying about whether their children are going to encounter the wrong police officer in the wrong moment. No families should have to worry about their child losing their life just because of the color of their skin. Yet, they do. That should never happen in what should be, and I still believe is, the greatest nation on the planet."
Even as an incredibly successful businessman, Khan, a Muslim-American, said he still encounters racism today. As Khan wrote, "change for all people of color in the United States is long overdue and it must happen now."
"I know change is possible, and here's one reason why: While I am often described as 'self-made,' the truth is I benefitted tremendously from hundreds of good and generous people early on, from all walks of life, who supported me unconditionally and contributed mightily to my realization of the American Dream," Khan wrote. "My classmates, professors, fraternity brothers, colleagues, friends and family all helped to shape the person I am today. Opportunity and some help along the way allow us all to do great things."
Khan's change centers on providing similar opportunities to those in need, specifically "marginalized families" who "only needed an opportunity -- and hope -- to break the relentless cycle of poverty and oppression." He cited his opening of automotive plants in Chicago and Detroit as examples of the positive power of opportunity and hope.
"My overarching goal, or mission, is to do my part to level the playing field so everyone has the same access and opportunity to achieve the American Dream, without fear or compromise," Khan wrote. "As a member of the NFL family, I recognize I have a unique opportunity to address inequity wherever it is present, expand opportunity for all who seek it, and seek justice for all who deserve it. I take that responsibility seriously."
Khan's multiple businesses and development projects in Jacksonville, including the city's downtown area, will be a key vehicle for enacting positive change, he said, but so will open dialogue with his team's players "with an exceptionally keen ear so we can work with them to make the transition from conversation to actionable plans in the name of lasting change." Khan will have similar conversations "with employees and associates throughout my various businesses, where the interests and concerns on this matter are no less vital."
Khan ended his op-ed with an emphatic statement.
"Racial discrimination has no place in our society. That's been said. But, what's been done?
"We must have the answer today, and we will work with players, staff and more to arrive at a timely response. Because this moment, while agonizingly similar in many ways, is unlike any other in our history for underserved people and communities in the United States. We cannot attack the virus of racism with indifference or periodic attention. We cannot expect an easy cure or give up when the quest becomes inconvenient or uncomfortable.
"Most of all, we cannot fail our children -- children who deserve to know they have the same opportunity to earn a living, have a family and live safely -- no matter the color of their skin.
"Racism, in all its forms, will kill. It kills people, it kills communities, it kills dreams, it kills hope.
"For many Americans, now is the moment. Never has that been clearer.
"I don't want to waste this moment."