By Chris Mattox: CMattox@fdfproject.com
Sunday’s “protests” at NFL games were just aight. Like when you get that red velvet cake that looks oh so delectable only to discover on first bite that it’s just chocolate cake with food coloring. I fear the purpose for the protests is getting lost in the sauce. Yesterday’s protests were more about standing up to Trump then taking a knee against police brutality and racial injustices in our legal system, and in the end Colin Kaepernick still doesn’t have a job. So, what was yesterday really all about?
First, it was a powerful sight to see so many players and owners and staff standing together in solidarity. I just would have preferred if this had happened a year and a half ago when #7 quietly began a personal protest that resonated with so many of us. Yesterday, folks locked arms, some kneeled, and others were just there. Where were all these people when Kaep began his protest? Owners came down out of the luxury suite to lock arms with their players, whom Trump had just denigrated as sons of bitches. These same owners though have done their level best to stay away from Kaepernick and more importantly to steer clear of his message that racial injustice permeates the legal system. He was bad for business, a distraction, a has been malcontent. I believe the owners were locking arms for another reason. I hate being so cynical, but the way my neural pathways are set up….
The president of the United States had just attacked their business (I.e. Their pockets). He called for fans to boycott games until players stopped protesting. Aside from the fact that owners can’t fire players for peaceful protest and remain the patriots they portray themselves to be, 90% of their labor force is Black. Without the players they have no league, no games, and no billion dollar enterprise. There are definitely some owners who understand the protests and the temperature of the nation. Stephen Ross of the Miami Dolphins is one. If an owner didn’t mention racial bias in policing and use of force in his statement, then he was out there protesting an attack on his livelihood. In my opinion.
Still surprised so many Black players aren’t kneeling. Glad to see the league showed some type of solidarity, but when we drill down I feel we need more solidarity within our community. That’s the hard thing about being Black in America. All of us ain’t part of the community. I have debates with friends who still dislike being called African American. “Im not an African American,” they say. “I’m just an American.” That’s a lovely sentiment except for the fact that you are more likely to be stopped and searched, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and discriminated against than your fellow Americans. OJ said I ain’t black, I’m OJ….ok. So it becomes very hard for us to form a united front because all of our OJs, Ben Carsons, and Stacy Dashes out here tryna get brownie points for not being like the rest of us. I hope the players saw that when they move as a bloc they are far more powerful. Kaepernick already took the hit for everyone. He lost out on money and career fulfillment. They can’t run that okie doke on all of y’all, so what you standing for? In my opinion, Black people can’t afford to be conscientious objectors in this generational struggle. Sooner or later it’ll come knocking at your door like the census and it ain’t gone care that you didn’t ruffle any feathers or make waves.
Now all eyes turn to next week. Are the mass protests over? Will owners take the field again in support of their players? Will some player somewhere return the attention and spotlight to the core issue? Has the stigma of Kaepernick been assuaged? What we do know is that their are protest in St. Louis where a police officer was acquitted for killing a black man. What we do know is that Jeff Sessions is looking to return the country to the mass incarceration era of mandatory minimums. We do know that the Justice Department is pulling out of consent agreements to monitor police departments with troublesome histories of racial bias. We also know that a good portion of Americans think this entire thing is just Black folks hollering aloud. So, yesterday was a cool start, but there’s a lot more road to hoe. Don’t let it settle. In fact, ratchet the pressure up. Indeed, let it be continuous and constant. Don’t just lock arms with me. Kneel with me.