He’s dealt with police brutality, he’s dealt with prejudiced police and he’s even been held at gunpoint for no reason.
But that sort of injustice is all too common for Ferron Flavors Jr.
Growing up in Federal Way, Washington, Flavors, the Oklahoma State men's basketball graduate transfer from California Baptist, has dealt with much racism and discrimination his entire life.
“Since I’ve been back these last couple of months from school, I go on runs and stuff and just to see the way people look at me,” Flavors said. “Or if I run by them, they grab their purse tighter or they pull their kids closer, just different things. They don’t wave when I wave back, things like that.
“It’s just like, ‘What did I do to you?’”
Flavors has been treated differently his entire life – simply because of the color of his skin.
Despite always being a smart kid who took AP classes and excelled in school, people always looked at him differently.
“People of my color and my skin tone and my race aren’t really, figuratively speaking, ‘supposed to be in these classes.’” Flavors said. “It sucks for sure. And I hope that this helps change a lot of stuff, because it’s really disheartening.”
While Flavors kept his head on straight and worked hard on and off the basketball court, the color of his skin forced him to approach life differently.
Flavors recalled a story from when he was 16. He and a few of his friends attended a party, which ended and as they were walking out, they heard gunshots.
Naturally, they all started running away. One of Flavors’ friends pulled up with a car and they all jumped in and drove away.
But during that whole sequence, the police saw Flavors’ and his friends all run and leave the scene.
“So they pulled us over and about two minutes later, we look back and there’s like 10 police cars, all with their guns pointed at us,” Flavors said. “Then, they made us get out of the car one by one and walk backward with our hands up and get handcuffed, put on the ground, all for them to say, ‘Oh, we thought you were somebody else.’ Just because of the color of our skin.
“They don’t know who the gun shots came from. But they just assume that it was us. That was one of the most traumatizing experiences that I’ve been through.”
And even in those types of difficult situations, Flavors had to handle things differently.
“Growing up as a young black man, you’re always a threat,” Flavors said. “My parents, they always taught me to be calm in those situations, (to) move differently so you’re not as suspicious. But either way, the color of my skin has always been a problem to a lot of people.”
Flavors has been through a lot of unjust situations, and he’s been a huge activist in the community, voicing his opinion to the public.
He’s a big part of Federal Way— he’s won two state championships for Federal Way High School, but still, he isn’t afforded simple peace of mind.
“Every time I walk out the door, I’m scared,” Flavors said. “The first couple of days, when I got home from a trip, all the stuff started happening. I told my parents, ‘I wouldn’t feel safe going outside right now.’”
And he didn’t. At least for a few days.
Flavors brought up the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man who was just going on a jog. Flavors said he was scared the same thing might happen to him.
These are the things that flow into the head of a Division I athlete who spends many nights hearing cheers from the crowd for his stellar play on the court.
But when he steps off the hardwood, everything changes. He doesn’t receive some of the basic civil liberties he should.
“We don’t want any special treatment aside from everybody else,” Flavors said. “I’d seen something on Twitter the other day, people were washing protestors' feet or something like that. This is not what this is about. We just want to be equal to you guys. We want to be able to walk outside and not have to always watch our back.”
It may seem like a simple request, but the issue still prevails in America. And so, Flavors talked about how important it is to use his platform to reach people.
Flavors has sisters who are heavily invested in the issues, as well as educated in them, but he’s the one with that platform to reach so many people. And he plans to use it for exactly that reason – to differentiate right and wrong.
And certain things may send certain messages.
“A lot of these football programs where they say: ‘No, you’re not going to take a knee or you’re going to get kicked off the team,” Flavors said. “So it’s like, why are you trying to hold this young man back from voicing his opinion on a certain situation that directly impacts him.
“It’s not like he’s out here protesting for a food place or protesting for clothes, he’s literally protesting for his life.”
But that's not the situation Flavors came into with OSU basketball and coach Mike Boynton. He said he’s been happy with the coaching staff here and how they’ve handled things.
Boynton has spoken extensively about the issues and how difficult it is to fix them. Flavors relayed that same message.
“It’s been going on for thousands of years,” Flavors said. “It’s going to take a real big effort to fix that. And a lot of people putting behind, especially right now, the ‘All Lives Matter.’ People saying that has to stop.
“Because if All Lives Matter, then I wouldn’t be fighting for mine.”