The trendsetter in the name of Colin Kaepernick, who bravely risked his NFL career and more importantly started uncomfortable conversations to shed light on the racial injustice and the police brutality in America.
Many across the nation didn’t seem to agree or stood behind his protest for the reason that in 2016, Kaepernick took a kneel during the national anthem during a preseason game. Kaepernick’s playing career was wrongfully blackballed by the owners of the NFL after the 2016 season, refusing to sign a player that would in their mind “effect their bottom-line.”
Since then not just NFL players but NBA, MLB, and other sports leagues have taken the blueprint and courage of Kaepernick’s protest to the next level.
In this current climate, it is expected to watch any sporting contest which mostly consists of black athletes to see players kneeling before the anthem. We may enter a scenario where the Star-Spangled Banner will no longer be played before games moving forward.
By saying 2020 will not only be referred to the clarity of a person’s vision but, to a year where it will be recorded to some fifth-grade history textbook as one of the significant time periods of all time. From the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing protocols, to the national protests and uproar of the killing of a black man, George Floyd in the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, this year has modified the social awareness of citizens.
Social media has captivated and enhanced the protest of police brutality with hashtags like “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Their Name,” not just black people but other races like Asians, Hispanics and Whites have all joined hands to conquer one goal in mind, the eradication of racism.
These outcomes of events were the last straw for many Americans throughout the nation that “enough is enough,” referring to racism in this country.
Corporate companies like Nike supported Kaepernick’s protest even after when it seemed he would never play another down of football again. They produced ads and commercials allocating for police reform and white people to join in on the fight against racism, if not you are “part of the problem.”
Nike also went further in their fight against racial acts with the refusal of advertising the NFL franchise the Washington Redskins gear on their site unless the team changes its name and logo that symbolize a racial slur towards the skin of Native Americans.
The franchise was forced to discontinue the name a month ago once again because the consequences of owner Daniel Snyder’s “bottom-line.”
The NBA and its players who are majority African American followed into the racial protests as well. Still, for many fans and viewers out there to see multi-millionaire athletes voicing their opinion in a sport setting is discomforting and unwatchable but to the NBA it’s more important to share the actuality of racial injustice.
NBA Star and mogul LeBron James is not afraid and has a history expressing his political and social views in the past. In 2018, Laura Ingraham, a FOX News television host, infamously told James and other basketball players to “Shut Up and Dribble,” when they shared their opinions on comments President Trump made.
James and many other Americans ridiculed Ingraham’s statement on social media, empowering many other NBA players like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant to use their platform to address racism in this country.
As the restart of the NBA season is underway unlike the NFL, the National Basketball Association has understood the times we are living in and chose to stand behind its players in social justice issues.
Los Angeles Lakers, led by James and other NBA teams, kneeled to the playing of the national anthem with their hands jointed together wearing their “Black Lives Matter,” t-shirts symbolizing unity.
League officials approved players to make the choice to no longer be mandated to wear their names on the backside of their jerseys. The NBA endorsed 29 sayings that players can choose from.
How about that?
Of course, “Black Lives Matters” were one of the sayings that were approved however, “All Lives Matter,” wasn’t because of the negative connotation the term presents. By just articulating those words takes some light towards the BLM Movement and by some viewed as racist.
All lives do matter however, not every ethnic group and race have experienced more police brutality and racial discrimination like African Americans especially those who live in urban communities.
Miami Heat Forward Jimmy Butler took it upon himself to choose not to wear a social justice message or his own name. He highlighted coming from the inner city of Houston, Texas he is no different from any other African American in this country.
After the game Butler in press conference, told reporters, “It’s going back to who I was. If I wasn’t who I was today, I’m no different than anybody else of color.”
Other players like Donavon Mitchel and Marcus Smart channeled their inner Marshawn Lynch and answered every press conference question asked by reporters with “Justice for Breonna Taylor,” another African American who was fatally killed by police officers.
As 2020 is halfway through fortunately, we hope to see social justice conversations fail to dissipate since as a society we tend to sweep issues under the rug eventually overtime.