This is not a post defending the NFL’s decision regarding the Systemic Inequality protests, far from it. As a matter of fact, the most dishonest thing in the world is the fact they called them “Anthem protests” or protests of the flag or troops.
This is not a post trying to find reasoning to why such a narrow-sighted decision even became a necessity. Blame Trump for that.
This is not about defending the NFL’s ratings as the ways we view are so vastly different and spread out than they were 8 years ago. That’s for another time.
This is about everybody. This is about our country. This is about propaganda. This is about the attempted silencing of men way smarter than the ones who are attempting to silence ever thought. This is about changing the goal posts for other leagues with similar rules. This is about the necessary conversation that we’re never going to have.
When the NFL announced the new rule after the owner’s meetings on Thursday, they were met with mostly backlash in the face of such a ridiculous decision. Sure they got praise from Ghostface VP and President Trump, but when one pulled a publicity stunt just to walk out like a stubborn teenager and the other is responsible for the most divisive Presidency of the modern era, I don’t put a lot of stock in it.
America treats its past like a child cleans their room: by pushing all of the mess into a pile or corner and acting like it doesn’t exist.
Colin Kaepernick is not Martin Luther King Jr., or Mary McLeod Bethune or Ella Baker or Malcolm X or Huey Newton or Marcus Garvey or Shirley Chisolm or any other Civil Right’s/Black Empowerment figure from days past. He doesn’t have to be. Those leaders provided him the opportunity to create the very platform that he used to make his voice heard. The thing that he and those leaders of the past have in common: his voice and message were warped to create division, hostility and nullify what he was speaking about. An attempt to keep that pile of filth underwraps.
America is uncomfortable with its past.
I’ve had white friends, in earnest discussion, say “sports are a way to get away from life, they’re an escape. People don’t want to see that there!”
My rebuttal is always the same: protests are not about comfort (and someone kneeling for 70 seconds doesn’t take away from the game, you can still watch it afterward). They’re not designed to be convenient for you. MLK didn’t ask “when would be the most comfortable time for us to march?” because the people he was asking would’ve said “in the midnight hour.” If Shirley Chisolm would’ve waited until people were comfortable with her running for Congress, she never would’ve ran. Part of change is being uncomfortable, it’s being confronted with those things that are difficult to swallow or fix in one day. Kaepernick didn’t get on a megaphone and yell about systemic racism, oppression in the form of the school to prison pipeline, inequality when dealing with law enforcement, etc. He sat, and when he spoke with Green Beret Nate Boyer about respectability, Boyer convinced him to kneel instead.
They talked it out first.
Somehow a gesture that was created with a member of the Armed Forces got twisted into a gesture against them.
The 1st Hypocrite: The NFL
It’s about the bottom line for the NFL, period. That’s fine and all, but when you do things like say you’re going to listen to your players and put them first and then turn around and hold a vote without their input…..you’re not listening to your players. The NFL let Trump and his crowd turn this into an issue that it was not, and instead of getting in front of the issue, clarifying what these protests were about and what their players were doing, Roger Goodell got in front of a podium and flailed around for 30 minutes. When you willingly and routinely use the term “anthem protests” to describe something that’s not a National Anthem protest, you give validity to an already false belief, more on that in a second.
The NFL heard older white males (their key demographic) complaining and instead of doing what the NBA has done and continued to do, they panicked and made up an arbitrary rule that won’t solve the problem.
In 2015, a Senate report released by Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake poured cold water on some of the more heartwarming moments of patriotism seen in professional sports.The report found the Department of Defense had spent $6.8 million on what they called “paid patriotism” between 2012 and 2015. This money was spread out among 50 pro teams from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, MLS and others. – CNN
What you’re going to see now: more players stay in the locker room or some unique protests on the field that will be done while standing.
The NFL had a golden opportunity to pull in an audience that has long been an afterthought to them. The audience that resembles most of their players, the ones who have watched and supported but never been their target audience. Mainly because we don’t spend the money that their core and loudest audience does, but there could be many reasons for that.
Look at the way the NFL has handled players versus the NBA, and I’m not just talking about in the last two years. The NBA’s marketing team has done a fantastic job of showcasing their biggest players, regardless of background. Allen Iverson was a role model to young black kids who grew up how he did because he never backed down, he was unapologetically himself, and while those things would get Tom Brady praised in the league, they buried guys like Terrell Owens. Yes, the NBA created an entire rule based on Iverson’s style of dress, but they ultimately learned from it by embracing Iverson and players like him over time. They let their players speak, they don’t restrict them to tired old cliches and crucify them if they get out of line. NFL sports radio is full of white males, NBA sports talk is all over the board. The NFL had a chance to step in the right direction, and as one of my followers said this morning (wish I could find the tweet): Goodell had the ball on 3rd and 1, and he threw a pick six.
The 2nd hypocrite: The Fans
Any statement you make that I don’t like is political – Ancient Internet Proverb
Stop for a second. What does it mean to you when people say “racism is alive and well”, what do you think of when you hear the term “racism”? I’m asking a serious question here.
There are a lot of people who believe that being racist means running around calling minorities bad words. That’s some of it, yes, but that’s not the grand scope of what racism is and what these inequality protests are about. That’s a small piece.
Would you agree that America has a long and sordid history of racial violence and oppression? Even if things became “normal” immediately after The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, you’re still looking at 53 years of “normalcy” compared to over 200 years of being considered less than. If you’re really into mathematics, you can add up all the years that Black people were considered 3/5s of a person in an effort to boost populations of southern states. There’s a lot of ground to be made up here, there are a lot of economic and legal practices that were created to put black people in a hole and to make sure they never caught up to White people. These happened in the 70s. That’s also not where it ended.
When you consider all of the things that minority groups, particularly black people, have been through in this country, is it really a bad thing that young men who may have come from impoverished backgrounds or had family in those conditions, stepped up to say “this isn’t okay, we need to fix this”. Is it really that bad that players looked at the fact that black people are treated unfairly by police, and that black women are killed at an alarming rate by law enforcement and said “hey, this isn’t okay. Let’s talk about this.”
Is it really awful that black men who saw their friends and possibly family members locked away and treated unfairly by the Justice System of our country for trying to do what they could to simply survive? If you’re growing up impoverished, you’re going to do what you can so that your family can eat. Does that make it okay? No. But ask yourself this: why are there an alarming number of people who belong to a population that was once enslaved, barred from making a living once freed, attacked and terrorized when they made progress in droves and who in some cases were enslaved well into the 1960s, in conditions of poverty and need? Is it that maybe, just maybe, there were forces beyond their control content with them remaining that way? Maybe through cutting and limiting certain benefits or gerrymandering certain districts to negate their voices? Through creating private schools and then cutting funding to public schools to reduce the quality of education and therefore the chance for upward mobility? It’s well known that in our country, your zip code often determines your fate.
It’s one thing to be aware of this, it’s another thing to live it. To desire to escape it. It’s a bigger thing when your desire grows into the need for OTHERS to escape it as well.
Next time you whine about the inconvenience of someone kneeling silently during an anthem you only care about because you want to prove you’re more American. Remember it’s always deeper than you’re realizing. Even if you, as a white person, grew up poor, statistics show you’re more likely to succeed than even a black person who was born middle class. Something, which I’ll remind you, that has only been occurring for one or two generations. There are multiple reasons for that, and it’s not because of whites being smarter or superior, it’s because of access, opportunity and systemic oppression and violence.
I hope that Black and Blue flag on the back of your car makes you forget about what happened to Henry Louis Gates or Sterling Brown or Michael Bennett or Darren Martin. The black people who actually have the money that you think protects them from racism. I hope your equally dismissive and tone deaf “Blue Lives Matter” sign helps you sleep at night.
Symbolism without substance is propaganda. Don’t demand one stands for the flag, if you’re not fighting for those ideals, and I don’t mean in war.
The 49ers have said they’re stopping all activity during the Anthem, I’m fine with this. I think if you’re going to make such a stink about a player doing this during the anthem, peacefully and silently, then you can’t get your beer or nachos, or sit on your phone, or yell obscenities at players protesting.
The 3rd Hypocrite: The Anger
Listen. I want you to be loud. I want you to be so loud about this that your tongue falls out and your body being the ever stubborn machine that it is, creates a new one so you can yell louder.
If that’s what you want.
I know a lot of people who are protesting and boycotting the NFL over the decision they made this week. That’s fine and understandable.
The rules are no different now, the NBA has had theirs for decades, they just decided to reinforce it last year.
The MLB has played the anthem since World War I, but never enforced the need to stand.
My only request is that you keep that same energy for the other leagues. All of them are about their bottom dollar, the main difference is that the NBA jumped in, defended their players publicly, then reinforced the rule. The NFL bungled the entire process and then made a new one.
So I get it, optic wise, it’s terrible, it’s awful, but it’s the same thing other leagues have been doing, and if you think College Football is any different: they’d enforce those same rules if the players even had the right TO protest. I’m still going to be watching football, I enjoy it too much to let it go, so much so that I’m looking forward to the AAF starting in the spring. I’m a self-admitted junkie.
I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and say that I’ll be joining you in boycotting, because I’ve always understood that these leagues don’t care about me. The players might, but the league doesn’t.
Arthur Blank, God love him. Doesn’t.
Jed York, doesn’t.
Jerry Jones for sure the hell doesn’t.
Roger Goodell either.
For some people, that’s enough to draw the line, and that’s perfectly fine. You should.
For what it’s worth, I hope Kaepernick sues the pants off the NFL, and Eric Reid takes the shirt.