NFL Players, Please Keep Taking That Knee
The Trump Administration continues to fan the flames of division instead of focusing on getting more assistance to the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (American citizens) who are in dire need in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. This administration seems hell bent on arguing with people of color meanwhile they’re not doing enough to help citizens of color in PR and USVI.
Now, if the administration insists on discussing the NFL and why some NFL players like Colin Kaepernick have been protesting during the national anthem, they could do so constructively without attacking these Black athletes who are only exercising their First Amendment rights. As a nation, we should be talking about the issues of police brutality and racism.
However, President Trump and Vice President Pence inserting themselves into this conversation serves as a distraction from message of the NFL protest movement. Trump and Pence have no clue what it’s about it. Colin Kaepernick, who started this protest last year, and the other players like Eric Reid and Eli Harold who initially rallied behind Kaepernick have been using their status and the national anthem as the means to peacefully voice their concerns about racial inequality.
Their kneeling or raising fists in the air during the anthem is about acknowledging that our country is still not fulfilling its promises to all its citizens. Their protest is NOT about showing disrespect to this the country, its flag, or to those who fought to protect our country’s principles. It’s about changing this country for the better. In fact, Kaepernick started kneeling instead of sitting during the anthem after speaking with US Army veteran and former NFL player Nate Boyer who encouraged Kaepernick to kneel as more of a sign of respect. Even after changing his form of protest, Kaepernick has been criticized and has yet to be resigned to a team this season.
Trump’s recent insults towards Kaepernick and other players in the league (calling players who protest sons of b****** and advocating for the firing those players) provided a moment of unity between other players who haven’t been part of the protest and even some NFL owners and coaches. More players have been inspired to join the cause. These protests in the NFL and in other professional or nonprofessional sports need to stay in the national spotlight and people should stop bypassing the REAL message.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and some of the team owners especially Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys are now backing out of their support of their players and their excuse is their respect for the flag and anthem (everyone must stand for the anthem). However, these protest are NOT about the flag or the anthem. They ARE about the people who are impacted by police brutality and racism.
Those who are making it about the flag and anthem are only proving that they are more concerned with reverence to our nation’s flag than caring about the lives of our nation’s people. They rather hear silence from people of color than to listen to our dissension.
They want hold on to the illusion that this country is perfect than to admit its failures especially toward its citizens of color. They somehow think that they’re entitled to dictate how, when, and why people of color express ourselves.
They believe that people of color especially in sports and entertainment should worry about putting on a show and not speak on behalf of communities of color. They simply want to ignore the groups that have been marginalized by this country’s systemic oppression.
This is exactly why these NFL players and others should keep protesting until our country’s leadership and fellow citizens agree on change instead of indifference. Individuals who are not concerned with the injustices that are happening or choose to cover their eyes to it are on the wrong side of society and history.
The players who are protesting are following the footsteps of the civil rights leaders of the past who used civil disobedience to spark social change. Also, Colin Kaepernick’s activism is similar to that of athletes like Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and Peter Norman who were stripped of their achievements because they dared to challenge the status quo. Now history commends their social conscience. The same will be said about Kaepernick and other athletes who are penalized for protesting injustice.
The NFL is 70% Black; these Black players have the right to show their concern for issues that impact them and people who look like them. If the commissioner, owners, coaches, sponsors, and fans respected these players as human beings as much as they profit from or enjoy their talents, they would support these players’ rights to speak up as young Black men who have the means and opportunity to help their community.
And if the Trump Administration respected these players as American citizens and wanted to find a solution towards unity and progress, they could reach out to these players instead of trivializing these athletes’ use of their platform for a just cause.