Sunday, September 24, 2017

"Everybody Vs Injustice": American Sports World Mostly Unites Against Racist President

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When I first saw National Football League players sitting down during the national anthem in protest against police brutality, I had mixed emotions. As someone who proudly covers our troops and veterans, I know how much they sacrifice. I also know how many brave and good police officers there are out there working every day to make this a better, safer place for all of us.

But after some early consternation, I came to the conclusion that these demonstrations are healthy. They are effective ways to call attention to things that are happening every day in our criminal justice system, and beyond. These protests are precisely what make America great.

And most people who serve or served in the military would tell you that they in fact fought so that we have the freedom to speak out in this way against racism, abuse of power and corruption.

This country was founded on protest, on civil and sometimes not-so-civil disobedience. And in the National Football League, about 70 percent of the players are African-American. In the National Basketball Association, about 75 percent of the players are African-American.  

It’s the height of arrogance for a white person to tell a black man, in a business dominated by black men, what he should or should not think, or do, especially if it is neither illegal nor harmful.

Have we made tons of progress on race relations? Yes, of course. Are there more opportunities now for African-Americans than ever? Yes, of course. Is there still deep-seated racism in this country, both institutional and personal, and still major problems with America's criminal justice and educational systems? Yes, of course.

If you even have to ask that last question, you need to get out more. You need to tune out and turn off the the television and radio pundits and re-enter the real world.

Because until we spend a day in America as a black man, we have no real insight into what it’s like. What it's really like. We can’t know unless we are in another person’s skin. Literally.

The protests that have spread across the entire NFL today by black and white players, coaches and even owners is good for this country. It’s an inspiring sight to see that most teams have agreed to lock arms during the anthem, showing unity.

Some knelt during today’s anthem. Others didn’t. Some fans booed the protestors. Others applauded. Aint that America!

Rex Ryan, the feisty former coach who's now a feisty TV analyst, said today he feels betrayed by Trump, who he supported.

“When he asked me to introduce him at a rally in Buffalo, I did that,” Ryan said. “But I’m reading these comments and it’s appalling to me, and it’s appalling to any citizen in our country.”

Here is the simple question that we all should ask ourselves: How can you expect these high-profile African-Americans to say silent when there is an unapologetic racist in the White House?

Trump's presidential campaign and presidency have been dog whistles, and sometimes far less subtle shout-outs, to racists. Trump has quite literally made this country safe again for hate along racial lines. If you don't see that, you have chosen to be blind.

This silver-spooned narcissist, who was born on third base and has believed throughout his life that he hit a triple, called an educated, socially aware African-American professional athlete who peacefully protested a "son of a bitch.”

No, Trump, that would be you. Your race-based culture war, which began years ago in New York City with your discriminatory housing practices and full-page ads in New York newspapers accusing African-Americans of crimes of which they were later proved innocent, foreshadowed your ugly presidency.

Your effort to show that Barack Obama is not an American, during which you made baseless claims that Obama’s birth certificate was fake, should have told us all we needed to know about what kind of divisive president you would make.

Mr. Trump, you clearly want to silence the voices of famous African-Americans when they speak out legally and justifiably against the injustices they see. But your racist demagoguery will not stand.

Even a number of NFL owners, a group not exactly known for its egalitarian beliefs, have come out in solid support of the players and against your racist trash talk.

N.F.L. commissioner Roger Goodell, who's generally reluctant to take a stand on anything and has shown he cares more about dollars than people, called your comments “divisive” and that they showed an “unfortunate lack of respect” for the players.

Trump, a global embarrassment whose approval rating is at historic lows, is obviously desperate to hold on to a presidency that is in shambles. 

Bitching about peaceful black protestors is his characteristically lazy, low-road way to appeal to his base and distract from the fact that he has been a legislative and moral failure in the White House.

He's not kept any of his big promises, from immigration to healthcare, and he has divided this country in ways I thought not possible. But the NFL, and the NBA, are mad as hell and are not gonna take it any more. 

Even many sports figures who supported him are now fed up. CBS analyst and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason called Trump’s comments and tone “a blight on our country.”

Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher today said, “We can be unified and think differently."

And the players’ protests today on the field have been far and wide. Many stood with arms linked, some knelt, others raised a fist, others placed their hands over their hearts. Some players chose to stay in the locker room, while other stood in solidarity with a hand on the shoulders of kneeling teammates.

It’s touching that the players are mostly together on this. Not everyone agrees with these protestors, of course, and I do understand that. But for the most part the league is standing as one against Trump, against hate, even those who don't personally agree with the way the players are showing their opposition.

Now that is the America I love.

Yes, there have been some push back by fans in the stadiums today. The boo birds could he heard clearly when about 20 New England Patriot players knelt during the national anthem.

But for the most part, there was solidarity. This was an historic day for sports and for race in America. Meanwhile, the president is boxing himself into the stinky corner of the sandbox , where eventually only the Steve Bannons and David Dukes of the world will play with him.

The Patriot players who kneeled, side by side with arms locked, included Adam Butler, Brandon King, Lawrence Guy, Alan Branch, Jordan Richards, Malcom Brown, Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise Jr., Jonathan Jones, Devin McCourty, Elandon Roberts, Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Brandon Bolden, James White, Johnson Bademosi and Duron Harmon.

About 20 Browns players knelt during the national anthem in Indianapolis.

The entire Buffalo Bills sideline walked 10 yards toward the middle of the field for the national anthem. Several players then knelt, including Mike Tolbert, whose message on the T-shirt he wore during warm-ups said it all:

“Everybody vs Injustice.”


  1. So well said. The three main points (to me) which I will carry forward are, "This country was founded on protest, on civil and sometimes not-so-civil disobedience." "It’s the height of arrogance for a white person to tell a black man, in a business dominated by black men, what he should or should not think, or do, especially if it is neither illegal nor harmful.", and "Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher today said, “We can be unified and think differently."