Monroe Dispatch - No Struggle, No Progress

Anthem Protests Crossroads?


October 19, 2017 | View PDF

It looks like the protest by African-American football players in the NFL may be coming to an end. Soon. That is because Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones has all but issued an ultimatum to black players on the team, to either stand or not play. Jones, who knelt arm in arm with his players a couple of weeks ago in what we thought was a show of solidarity, just threw it out of the window, along with his players. Jones said that “this disrespect” of the flag must stop because he agrees wholeheartedly with President Trump, who advocated that players should be fired. Or as he called them, “son of b----” to which this reporter has not heard anyone say that language expressed by the president was unacceptable. However, Jerry Jones is doing what most of the other owners want to see done, but perhaps waited for the moment that Jones has provided. Now owners can “openly” talk about individuals’ right to express themselves on social issues, but don’t do it at the expense of the flag. Jones has also put Commissioner Roger Goodell in a precarious position. There are rules (legal and binding) that the NFL must follow in its agreements with the unions. One rule is that the NFL cannot force players to stand for the anthem, knowing if that were to happen, there would be numerous lawsuits. The one person benefitting from all of this, is President Trump. The president is once again going to a “hot button” issue that he knows will have Americans taking sides over a right that is constitutionally protected. President Trump is not a king or dictator, where he could demand blind obedience as in the case of other leaders, whom we are supposed to oppose when it comes to civil rights.

We all know that the protests are not about disrespecting the flag, or the anthem for that matter. It was about one issue, which is the killing of unarmed black men by police officers across the nation. Trump is yet to say anything about the killings, but still he will claim that he is “for” black Americans. The only time Trump will mention black Americans is when he talks about the gun violence in places like certain Chicago neighborhoods, but won’t say anything about the neighborhood that the Las Vegas shooter came from, or how many guns that the gunman allegedly owned. Black athletes have always stood for the flag even when police officers were victimizing black people during the early years of civil rights. Nevertheless, there have been a handful over the decades who have used sports as a venue to

address racial issues in this nation. Muhammad Ali is perhaps the most famous (not to take away from others) of sports personalities to not only protest the flag, but the government also. As the best boxer in the world, Ali gave up what was dear to him in order to force the government to recognize his right to protest. For his efforts, Ali received universal/ worldwide recognition for taking a stand. Ali’s stand was just as important as the symbolic knee that NFL players now take.

As the conversation of patriotism overshadows controversial police killings, black football players whether they are in the NFL, or on the high school team, can feel good about themselves because they took a stand. This a teachable moment for them and for the nation. We can’t make people talk about things that are uncomfortable to them. This nation is too polarized to have serious conversations about what divides us. The protests will eventfully die, the flag will wave, and only one verse of the anthem will we hear. A nation that was blessed with the best of everything and a mixture of people from everywhere is showing the world and God that when it came time to talk, the mouths that should have been talking remained shut. Remember, the world is watching. So is God.


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