As Chris Kyle’s (American Sniper) widow mentioned in her open-letter: “[The NFL has] a lot of strong guys, I am sure in the off season a lot of them could build some pretty big bridges if they care enough to do the hard work. That would involve getting off their knees and getting to work though.”
The NFL provides a great platform for the players to make a difference in their community. For players to wait until Sunday to make a 2-minute “statement” by kneeling is inefficient and is a minimization of the platform they are so lucky to have.
Yes, the anthem protests attempted to bring attention to police brutality and racial inequality. Sure, police brutality may be on the forefront, but is it the most prominent? A Northeastern University study from 2010-2013 showed that 92 percent of African Americans murdered were at the hands of… other African Americans. Additionally, despite making up just 13 percent of the population, African Americans are arrested at a significantly higher rate for drug crimes. Another interesting statistic: in 2015, two out of three African American children were being brought up in single parent households. Taking an active approach to these foundational issues in the community should be paramount, not taking a knee for 2 minutes every Sunday.
Its important to remember that the civil rights movement of the 1960’s was embedded in patriotism. In MLK’s “I have a dream” speech, he makes appeals to the constitution and bill of rights, saying that these documents were “a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The bottom line is this: kneeling for the national anthem is well within a player’s rights, but is the type of passive activism that brings about division instead of unity, and agitates instead of accomplishing.
Without a doubt, there are certain laws and policies that disproportionately disadvantage the African-American community, and its important to address and change them. But to bring about this change, its prudent to unite people behind the cause; kneeling for the anthem simply divides.