Kenton Gibbs | Staff Writer
I am sick of so many aspects of the kneeling protest. If you have been under a rock for the last year and a half or so, I’ll catch you up. The NFL protests began last year when Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem to protest the mistreatment of black people in America by law enforcement officers. After being told that many saw his protest as disrespectful to the armed forces, Kaepernick talked to Army Green Beret veteran Nate Boyer to discuss how to enhance the quality and “respectfulness” of the protest. He began kneeling instead of sitting and was joined by a handful of players who agreed with his message. Boom.
Fast forward to today. Those who were already kneeling remain doing so, as police have killed more than 730 civilians so far this year. Kaepernick is unemployed, despite having a better 2016 Quarterback Rating (55.2) than starters like Ryan Tannehill, Cam Newton, Carson Wentz, Eli Manning, Blake Bortles, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Case Keenum. Kaepernick himself has been the focus, rather than the actual protest or the injustices that were being protested.
Then y’all, President Donald Trump saw NFL players kneeling and felt the need to comment. He said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b**** off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’ You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’”
I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. As owner after owner and coach after coach repudiated Trump’s comments, the feeling only got worse. Not because he called for the firing of private citizens for exercising their first amendment rights, and not because he was paying attention to a source of entertainment instead of the millions of people displaced by hurricanes, but because he provided a direct path to derailing Colin Kaepernick’s protest.
I knew that plenty of teams would protest, and their protests would be based around Trump’s attack on them. Resistance based around Trump is the hot thing right now. It’s cute to go against whatever he says. However, the original point of Kaepernick’s protest was to protest the treatment of black people in America. When Trump made his statement, the pressure was taken off of the conscience of NFL owners, coaches and players to address the issue. Now it’s become being a part of an already trendy resistance.
This protest is a microcosm of every resistance against white supremacy. The aim is taken at the system; however, people refuse to address anything besides the method. Some white-dominated cause takes the method and uses it to overshadow the original point. This becomes apparent when we realize that very few of the players and owners who have knelt over the past few weeks have also come out to speak on behalf of Colin Kaepernick. In fact, the exact opposite has been true.
Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker, and future Hall of Famer, Ray Lewis was one of Kaepernick’s loudest critics. From his view on Kaep’s “disrespect of the flag,” to what Kaep’s girlfriend posts, all the way down to whether or not he’s tenured enough to be the face of a movement, Lewis has been very outspoken on the situation.
On the Fox Sports morning show Undisputed, he said, “I understand what Colin is trying to do, but take the flag out of it.” He has also said multiple times that he’d never protest the flag. Yet before the Ravens game in London, Lewis got down on both knees. He said it was for prayer, not protest, but that in and of itself is different from what national anthem protocol calls for, so it was a de facto protest.
The worst thing about Lewis’ comments is that his reasoning for never protesting the flag is that he has family in the military and has worked too closely with veterans and law enforcement officers to protest the flag. But what about the poor black men and women you claim to be a champion for? What about the black men and women who will never have the status to be embraced by law enforcement?
In closing, I would like to say a protest should be for a purpose, not a trend. And to Ray Lewis, you didn’t even backpedal this quick in your playing days, so stop it.