These past two days, we witnessed brothers sitting knee by knee and standing arm in arm alongside White men in an ostensible display of allyship.
The outward gestures of the #taketheknee protest alone implied a revolution was taking place. It was just the kind of unity intertwined with anarchist defiance our spirits have been longing to see. Sure the Black power fists were missing in action, but these visuals would do.
It was easy. And the narrative? Seamless.
First, a widely despised President Donald Trump stuck to his usual script when he incited outrage with a harshly worded condemnation of the NFL.
But in this particular instance, he came for our own by indirectly attacking Colin Kaepernick.
Our wrath was felt in the social media realm with Black NFL athletes and celebrities sticking up for their colleagues’ right to free speech on Twitter. The unity was heartening. It
had us open.
Then #taketheknee hashtag was birthed and it became clear with were the majority stood. Athletes and NFL executives were essentially given a blueprint as to how to appease the public.
But this particular outrage from Black America was different than that which stems from police brutality. The antagonist in this scenario also happens to be a provocateur
abhorred by a fair number of White Americans. How many remotely sensible people wouldn’t be willing to mobilize against a reality TV star turned president who admitted to being sexually
attracted to his child?
Opposition towards Trump issocially acceptable because his idiocy and repugnant character
aren’t respected by White Americans.
No one was infuriated by Trump’s evident disregard for the racial injustice that initially spurred Kaepernick’s national anthem protest. Their indignation was in the audacity it took in negating someone’s right to protest and free speech.
And rich and powerful White men probably don’t like being told what to do.
NFL owners couldn’t have truly been indignant at being instructed by the president to get those “son of a b**ch” players protesting the anthem “off the field.” Kaepernick was
that SOB and all 32 league owners ensured he wouldn’t be playing in any field their teams were on in the 2017 football season and possibly, beyond.
When the Dallas Cowboys, affectionately known as “America’s Team” kneeled before the national anthem and still honored the actual anthem by standing, the NFL’s intentions with this faux movement became crystal clear.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett locking arms with the brown-skinned players was nothing more than a cute photo-op. There is a message of intolerance for the justice system that regularly persecutes people of color and they chose to take no part of that. The Cowboys distanced themselves from the semblance of the protests while also distancing themselves from their racist reputation.
The #taketheknee movement is a watered-down version of Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality. For athletes, something got lost in translation. For owners and coaches, it’s
an exploitation of Black pain.
A movement initially used to protest incessant police brutality translated into an opportunity for the NFL to appear sensitive to the struggles of the Black community while
repairing their image.