A few weeks ago, just after the San Francisco 49er’s backup quarterback sat for the National Anthem, the internet and social media was alive with the condemnations and outrage over this disrespectful gesture. One of my friends was of the opinion the owners and the league leadership would weigh in on the subject and quickly put a stop to it. In looking at league make up I was not sure of this at all. The NFL is about 68% African-American and the European-Americans of the league’s front office, along with the player’s union are in a somewhat difficult position on these racially motivated protests. For me, the first indication of the position the league would take was its rejection of the Dallas Cowboy’s request to put a sticker on their helmet to honor the slain police officers, shot just a few weeks earlier.
I see in the USA Today, that Commissioner Goodell has finally issued a statement. Roger Goodell praises player demonstrations for going from 'protest to progress'
As I watch this all play out I am struck by a simple, unavoidable, fact. The commenters who condemn Mr. Kaepernick are almost exclusively white. The commenters who support Mr. Kaepernick are almost universally black. What does this tell you?
I am drawn back to a now famous tweet from November 2014, sent by a Jon Gabriel, “My favorite part about the Obama era is all the racial healing.”
My earliest recollection of an athlete using his stage to protest the political reality of racial problems in the US was the 1968 Summer Olympics when sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists during the playing of the National Anthem to recognize Smith’s winning the 200-meter race.
I don’t have a solution on how we achieve equality, and perhaps there is not one to be had as long as race is played as a central issue in every political discussion or agenda. What I have decided is this protest has a legitimate basis for being, but it will do little to move us towards a solution.
The protests will grow and they will wane, and eventually the news media will lose interest and they will fade away. In the end the tensions that separate us in America will remain, and perhaps be exasperated as we bring in more low-skilled immigrants to take the jobs of the low-skilled African and European Americans currently living near or at the poverty level, driving them deeper into economic slavery.