After Taking a Knee


Original supporters of Donald Trump are trying to disassociate with him, but I want to thank him. I can appreciate him. He’s the enemy we know versus the devil we don’t. He’s giving a voice to the people who’ve been whispering behind our backs. As his voice gets louder and as his statements get bolder, we can start calling things what they are and stop hiding behind coded language. Trump thinks that Blacks who speak out should be penalized and fired. He wants organizations who employ these individuals to handle the “problem” by silencing them. He tries to act like this is a conversation about patriotism, but he didn’t have these views when neo-Nazis and white supremacists were storming through Charlottesville. However, when journalist Jemele Hill, NBA player Stephen Curry, and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick use their platforms to raise awareness, he calls for action. Let’s act!

I’ve heard the conversations and the push back. I know people think this can’t and won’t work. The truth is, nothing will work if you don’t get up and do something. We could continue to linger and discuss what's best, or we can start here. This is not the time for critiquing or sitting the fence; this is the time to demand change and unite with those who are taking a stand. Desmond Tutu said it best, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

You could say this is just football. If you’re like me, you look at this as a golden opportunity to unite in a missive way. Whether you agree with Colin Kaepernick’s initial protest of the anthem or not, the fact is he took a stand for a basic human right: the right to humane treatment from the streets to the courtroom. He risked his livelihood to do it, and he ignited a fire that made America uncomfortable. America should be uncomfortable when our President, our history, and our laws have a blatant disregard for the rights of all people. Trump made it very clear that he does not support basic human rights, including the American right to free speech which he exercises often. Now that the sides have been clarified, we can start uniting with the push for human rights, and Hip-hop artist J. Cole proposed a two-part strategy everyone can take part in. He suggests that we do the following:

  1. Boycott the NFL until they hire a third party investigator to determine if Kaepernick was denied a job unfairly as punishment for his stance and compensate him if it is determined that he was.

  2. While the NFL remains silent, turn our attention to the NFL sponsors (who contributed at least 1.25 billion dollars to the NFL last year), inquire about their stance on the blackballing of players who speak out against oppression, and stop spending with those companies as long as they support a league which condones that action.

J. Cole admits that this may not be a perfect plan, but it’s a plan. It puts to action something people have been talking about since the back to back murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile: ecomonic power. If you follow my blog, you know I’ve already been boycotting the NFL, but I will gladly add some sponsors to my boycott list. If you who don’t like the plan, you can at least unite until a stronger solution is strategized and widely promoted. There is power in numbers. Cole says to start with the biggest sponsors, and I’ve included a small list below.

If yesterday’s NFL protests taught us anything, it’s that we have the ability to get America’s attention. From the average Joe on social media to celebrities like J. Cole, almost everyone was talking about the protests on Sunday afternoon. If we can grab America’s attention in such an alarming way just by coming together to promote a hash tag, discuss our thoughts publicly, or “take a knee,” what could we do if we really took action?

*For your convenience, some of the league’s top sponsors are Visa Inc., Ford Motor Co., Nike Inc., Anheuser-Busch InBev, Microsoft Corp., McDonald’s Corp., PepsiCo Inc., Campbell Soup Co., and Bridgestone Corp.

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© 2016 by Jasmine Hawkins