Opinion

It Wasn’t About A Drinking Fountain, It Wasn’t About A Bus Seat, It’s Not About A Knee: NFL Protesting For Dummies

It's a call to action: hear us, see us, and act accordingly.

Before we launch into full on Black Lives Matter mode by way of a brief history lesson and a breakdown of the system, how is everyone? How’s the dog? The kids? Is the fish still alive (probably not)? I haven’t written since July and it feels like an eternity. I’ve missed you guys. Hey, family!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, still own a flip phone like my mama, or refuse to watch the news (which I don’t blame you for at this point), you know Donald Trump caused a firestorm over the weekend by referring to NFL players who choose to kneel during the National Anthem as a form of protest “sons of bitches.” Yes, your president called citizens of his nation who choose to use their First Amendment right to peacefully protest those words. I’m confident he’ll be saying the n-word by Christmas. The -er one.

Trump’s words sparked outrage throughout the entire NFL organization and their fans alike, even causing some of his supporters to be “shocked” and make comments such as, “This isn’t what I voted for.” (Sis, you knew exactly what you voted for. But that’s a different post for a different day.) To make matters worse, he then decided to come for Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, rescinding his invite to the White House because he had yet to respond. Basically, homie got left on read in real life, couldn’t handle it, and did what he always does – ran to the Twitter machine to pout. This caused NBA players and fans, no matter what team or squad, to come together like the Bloods and Crips did during the Rodney King riots and caused even more frustration and confusion throughout the nation: “Why does the president care about something as trivial as what players come to the White House and don’t?” “He didn’t complain about Tom Brady not coming.” “What about helping Puerto Rico?” “What about North Korea?” “Hey man, FLINT STILL DOESN’T HAVE CLEAN WATER!”

In short, Trump’s weekend was trash.

Unlike others, I’m not frustrated or shocked by Mr. Trump’s words or actions. This is exactly what I expect from someone who ran a campaign on sexism, fascism, and racism and was able to win with help from fragile people who sadly share his ideology. These are the exact type of events I knew would unfold the November night I, a black woman, went to bed with a knot in my stomach because I knew our next commander in chief couldn’t care a bit about my race or gender. I can’t be frustrated or upset with this man because this is exactly what I expect from him – worse even.

What I am frustrated with is the people who are making statements like, “I don’t like Trump, but completely agree with him on this issue. How disgraceful. You need to respect your country! You should respect your flag! People died for your rights!” Sound familiar? One of your high school friends probably has a mom on Facebook who has said something similar to this. Her name is probably something like Tina. And is Tina wrong? Not necessarily. No matter how ugly our past and present may be, I believe America is still a nation that has afforded its citizens the rights and opportunities to be anything they want to be and do whatever they want to do. And yes, there are countless of men and women who have laid down their lives, fought, and are still fighting for us to have those rights protected. However, this type of American Dream doesn’t always feel as in reach for certain citizens of this nation; i.e. black and brown folks or anybody who doesn’t fit the typical description of what comes to mind when you think ‘Merica: White, Heterosexual, Conservative, and Christian. ┬áLet’s face it. People who aren’t able to check all four of those boxes are often ostracized and left without a seat at the table in certain areas. ┬áThe killings of unarmed black men, Muslim bans, and the DACA decision are just a few issues lately that have been dismissed with “shut and be thankful because people died for you!” attitudes.

NFL kneeling protests originated in response to the oppression of people of color in the U.S., mostly fueled by the killings of unarmed black men at the hands of the police and the injustice that followed. They’re not protesting the country, the flag, or the “Star Spangled Banner.” When Colin Kaepernick and other players take a knee on the field, in no way are they saying, “I hate my country. I think the National Anthem is stupid. I’m spitting on veterans’ graves by kneeling because I don’t care.” No. What they are saying is this: “I love my country, but I am acknowledging that it is not perfect. I want change. I want better for my people. Show me that this country is committed to liberty and justice for ALL of its citizens like it promises in the pledge, not just a few. Until change comes, I must take this stand by kneeling.”

Do you think the Freedom Riders believed that food really tasted better at the lunch counter? Or that Rosa Parks was literally so tired that she couldn’t walk a few extra feet to the back of the bus? Or that blacks really believed that water from the white water fountain was cooler and tastier so they dared to take a sip? No. These people were just so fed up with the system that they decided to take stands in the most striking ways they saw fit. History certainly repeats itself, and that’s what we’re seeing in live action at NFL games in 2017.

So for all my Tina’s on Facebook, we get that you hold this country, that flag, and those lyrics near and dear to your heart. Several of us do, as well. We’re simply ready for them to start living up to their message. Until then, we’ll continue to #takeaknee. It’s a call to action: hear us, see us, and act accordingly. And if you don’t get it by now, you just don’t want to.

X’s and O’s,

JF

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9 comments

    1. I understand your viewpoint. In my opinion (and I may be way off), it seems as if Kaepernick became so fed up with what he considered “the oppression of people of color” that he chose to use his platform to take a stand. He knew that millions watch his games every Sunday, so what better way to draw attention to himself and what he was fighting for than not participating during the National Anthem. What is he fighting for? For the Anthem, the pledge, The Declaration of Independence, etc. to all live up to their purpose. That sparked controversy and got the conversation started, but unfortunately people are focused on the wrong thing, hence the inspiration for this post.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I see. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and creating a space to discuss safely without ridicule.

        CK is the true definition of a patriot, no doubt. But he’s been ostracized. Owners and coaches don’t want him on their teams. What does that say?

        I understand drawing attention to an issue and definitely applaud that, but now what? We just take a knee indefinitely as we continue to dance and run for white owners? We don’t need to take a knee to recognize that we’re disproportionately imprisoned, that poor and Black communities are dangerously disenfranchised or that this country’s system is built for us to fail.

        I just don’t see the vision, the goal. I don’t see the correlation between taking a knee and what we’re going through as a people. I’m hoping to see a Black NFL or every Black player using their millions to clean Flint’s water or obliterate homelessness. Something more impactful than drawing attention to not standing for an anthem played at a game that’s an unnecessary luxury to take part in.

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    2. Another perspective that I heard is that by forcing the NFL to lose money and them taking an economic hit will begin to make change in the systemic inequality of this country. Something big needs to happen, so this country will realize they would be nothing without black people, just like Rosa parks proved back in the day without blacks public transportation lost A lot of money. I think all black athletes should sit out on a game or two to really get the message across but perhaps they can’t per their contract.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Jessica,
    In light of the NFL controversies, do you think there are perspectives on race outside the scope of Colin Kaepernick and BLM? What if he is part right and part wrong?
    Do you know that Democrats and Progressives ideals are responsible for:

    a. the Trail of Tears ?
    b. 100% of slave owners at the time of the Civil War?
    c. 100% of the leadership of slave states at the time of the Civil War?
    d. Eugenics that led to abortion and sterilization on the basis of race in US that was an example to Nazi’s for Holocaust?
    e. Japanese interment camps in WWII?

    All parties, people, and individuals are guilty of ignorance. Check out these questions and see what you find? Thanks!

    Like

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