Karen Attiah has penned one of the most incisive commentaries I've read on the National Football League's new policy on players protesting police brutality and racial injustice during the playing of the national anthem at the beginning of games.
Entitled “It's Time to Cancel the NFL's Plantation-style Politics,” Attiah's piece in The Washington Post was published on the same day as the New York Daily News's cover story (above) on how the NFL “dishonors the flag” with its new policy. The newspaper's cover illustration, which shows the names of victims of police brutality (including Philando Castile, Sandra Bland and Eric Garner) stitched into the stars and stripes of the American flag, is described by social commentator and civil rights activist Shaun King as “bold” and “essential.”
Following is an excerpt from Attiah's piece.
If you want a modern example of nakedly racist authoritarianism in America, look no further than the National Football League. The NFL announced Wednesday that “all team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem” and that a “club will be fined if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.” If a player wants to not stand for the anthem, he can stay in the locker room until after the anthem is done.
Make no mistake: Forcing players to go inside the locker room or face fines is a blatant attack on the free speech of black players (who make up almost 70 percent of the league). As a reminder, the black players were never protesting the flag or the anthem itself. They were making a statement about the racism, injustice and police brutality in the United States. However, the NFL, like America in so many ways, has shown that it is more interested in silencing the speech of black players than in “advancing the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of society,” as its new policy claims. In attempting to make white America comfortable, the NFL has decided to to deny players the very freedom of speech that our military members have fought for and died to protect. In that, the NFL’s policy is way more disrespectful to what the flag and anthem represent than a player kneeling could ever be.
. . . The NFL said that it was “honored to work with its players to drive progress” on social issues. Yet NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s statement never mentions the words “race” or “racism” — the original reasons that the players decided to take a knee in the first place. And let’s not forget that Colin Kaepernick, who has been effectively blacklisted from playing in the league for taking a knee, was not even invited to the player-owner meetings discussing social justice issues and NFL policy.
To read Attiah's commentary in its entirety, click here.
Related Off-site Links:
The Real Reason NFL Owners Want to Punish Players for Protesting During the Anthem – Dave Zirin (The Nation, May 23, 2018).
There Would Be No NFL Without Black Players. They Can Resist the Anthem Policy – Shaun R. Harper (The Washington Post, May 24, 2018).
Jets Owner Says If Any Player “Takes a Knee” He'll Pay NFL Fine – David Badash (New Civil Rights Movement, May 23, 2018).
Trump Praises NFL Decision and Questions If Protesting Players Should Be in the Country – Domenico Montanaro (NPR News, May 24, 2018).
NFL Bans National Anthem Protests on Same Day Video of Police Tasering of NBA Player Is Released – Democracy Now! (May 24, 2018).
New York Daily News Rips NFL Over Anthem Kneeling Ban – Lee Moran (The Huffington Post, May 24, 2018).
UPDATE: Cowardly NFL Goes Backward with Anthem Decision – Jim Souhan (Star Tribune, May 25, 2018).
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• Progressive Perspectives on Colin Kaepernick and the “Take A Knee” Movement
• Quote of the Day – April 23, 2018
• Quote of the Day – November 13, 2017
• Remembering Philando Castile and Demanding Abolition of the System That Targets and Kills People of Color
• "This Doesn't Happen to White People"
• Quote of the Day – March 31, 2016
• Something to Think About – December 29, 2015
• Quote of the Day – November 25, 2015
• "We Are All One" – #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation: Photos, Reflections and Links
• An Update on #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation
• Rallying in Solidarity with Eric Garner and Other Victims of Police Brutality
• "Say Her Name" Solidarity Action for Sandra Bland
• In Minneapolis, Rallying in Solidarity with Black Lives in Baltimore