by Ann Garrison
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick still doesn’t have a job with the NFL. However, the protest he began by kneeling during the national anthem at last season’s games keeps growing. A group of Black community leaders and pastors have announced an NFL “BlackOut” unless and until Colin Kaepernick is signed to play with an NFL team. They introduced their movement in a YouTube video:
NFL BlackOut Video: “In 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick engaged in a silent, nonviolent protest,” says Senior Pastor Deblaire Snell of the First SDA Church in Huntsville, Alabama. “Colin Kaepernick simply decided to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem at NFL games.
“He did this to raise awareness to the number of Brown and Black individuals that have been beaten or killed at the hands of law enforcement across this country. Since the end of last season, as a result of this protest, Colin Kaepernick has been unable to find employment in the NFL. I find that strange, seeing that the NFL has employed individuals that have been convicted of sexual assault, domestic violence, cruelty to animals, along with driving while under the influence.
“A number of NFL owners have come out and stated the reason they can’t employ him is because of a fear of a backlash from sponsors or a certain segment of their fan base. And it’s interesting that they’ve capitulated thus far to a certain segment of the fan base while fearing no backlash from the African American community.
“In 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick engaged in a silent, nonviolent protest,” says Senior Pastor Deblaire Snell of the First SDA Church in Huntsville, Alabama. “Colin Kaepernick simply decided to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem at NFL games.“
“The African American community makes up 15 percent of the NFL’s overall viewership. And I find it interesting that they’ve made the calculation that states that even though they’re going to silence one who stood up for values that have meaning to us, they have an expectation that African Americans are still going to be there on opening day, watching and patronizing their product.
“My belief is simply this: If Colin Kaepernick was willing to take a stand for those of us who are non-celebrities, that would have to interact with law enforcement on a day-to-day basis, if he’s willing to take a knee for us, certainly we ought to take a stand and stand with him. I think it’s important that we take some action steps.
“As long as Kaepernick is without a job, we refuse to watch the NFL, we refuse to purchase any NFL paraphernalia endorsed by the NFL, and we refuse to engage in fantasy football.”
The NFL BlackOut group encourages people of all colors, races and creeds to join them in their list of actions.
Last week, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett announced that he will continue to sit during the anthem all season. Bennett called on white players to join him in protest. His white teammate Justin Britt and Black teammate Frank Clark then supported him at last week’s Seahawks game.
As Bennett remained seated, Britt and Clark stood by his side, Britt with a hand on one of his shoulders, Clark with a hand at the back of his head. Bennett and Britt embraced after the anthem.
Another white player, Philadelphia Eagle Chris Long, rested a hand on the shoulder of Black teammate Malcolm Jenkins as Jenkins raised a fist high during the anthem this week. Like Bennett, Jenkins vowed to protest during the anthem till the season ends. Long called Jenkins a leader, and said that it was time for players who looked like him – white – to support the Black players protesting.
At the end of last week, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History announced that it will feature items relating to Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest as part of its Black Lives Matter collection.
Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.
Broadcast on KPFA Weekend News Aug. 19, 2017