The NFL's Kneeling Policy Is a Gift Package To Racists in White America
America loves black people - to the extent that we are able to entertain the masses. America wants to capitalize off our of culture, use our slang and co-opt our music. However, America hates black voices, black issues, and black ideas. That is the message that the NFL sent yesterday with its disgusting new policy to fine teams (and attach a 15-yard penalty) that allow players to kneel during the national anthem.
This continues a 3-year long battle between some players in the NFL (including Colin Kaepernick) who want to shed a light on police brutality and state violence and the NFL who wants to silence them. Many on social media are outraged, as are people offline in news media. To the casual observer, it's clear that this is an attempt to stifle political speech. For those who follow these types of stories closely, however, the NFL has taken a clear right-wing political stance to placate to the racists in America and in the White House.
More Than Just Football
What the NFL is actively engaged in goes beyond football. When Donald Trump called kneeling players "sons of bitches" last year, it was clear that he was prepared to go to war with the NFL to stop players from engaging in nonviolent protest. It appears on the surface that this has nothing to do with Trump, but many are not buying that.
The pushback from some has been that the NFL has the right to do this because they are a private corporation, which is only technically true. If the White House put pressure on NFL owners to take this action, then this is a very real assault on freedom of speech and would be illegal and a constitutional violation. Proving that however is another thing altogether and something that I don't see ever being proven in court. I do believe that is what is going on though.
We live in a country that routinely violates the constitutional rights of African-Americans. Several Department of Justice reports have shown this and little, to nothing has been done to address the crisis. So we shouldn't think it's somehow a conspiracy theory to suggest that the White House is indirectly manipulating this issue with the NFL to stifle the free speech rights of black players. It's not as if the NFL is going to openly come out and say that's what's going on.
America's Ongoing Cover-up of State Violence
Make no mistake, America is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world as Martin Luther King said many decades ago. This is true internationally of course, but also domestically. What the silencing and black-balling of NFL players who take a knee is really about is the active attempt to hide this topic. Many people, most of them in White America (but they exist in other groups too), do not want to have a discussion about this. As a matter of fact, I'd say people are terrified of having this discussion. Having an honest discussion about what America has done to black people means people have to be held accountable. Yet what do we constantly hear? We hear that "people have a right to be racist." As if that somehow absolves racist America from human and constitutional violations.
The cover-up of state violence is systematic and systemic and it is arguably one of the largest ongoing coverup's in America today. There are a lot of people working to hide the truth. The media, politicians (in both parties), and even average Americans who choose to not see what their eyes are clearly showing them.
Silencing athletes is important because athletes have a tremendous amount of social influence. The NFL has sent a message that if NFL players are going to use their influence to speak on black issues, then they will not be employed. It is one of the most disgusting acts of racism I've ever seen a sports entity engage in and the NFL will not be remembered favorably for how they've bungled this situation.