Men in the NFL Aren't the Only Atheletes Making a Statement Against Police Brutality

The first NFL player to protest the police brutality towards people of color in the United States was the former quarterback of the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick. He decided not to stand during the National Anthem at the beginning of the 2016 preseason. Originally, he simply remained seated. Safety, Eric Reid, noticed this gesture during the third game. After discovering the reason behind his silent protests, Reid felt inspired to join. So on September 1, 2016, both Reid and Kaepernick made a stand together. However, this time they knelt, as they felt that was more respectful. Reid made this known in his op-ed article in The Times. He wrote: “We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.”

 

In an interview with NFL, Kaepernick explained: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way” (Cook).

 

Their gesture did not go unnoticed. Many were outraged and not afraid to speak their minds; however, many were just as motivated to take a stand for the current injustices in our country as well.

More specifically, a group of six women on the University of Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team remain unnoticed to the wide majority of the population following this movement. Roughly two months after Kaepernick and Reid protested, these women did the same. They bravely did so in the 10th most conservative state in America (Hickey). They had to expect the cruel backlash they would receive afterwards; yet, they felt strongly enough about the state of our country to do it anyway.

One team member, Jordan Danberry, expressed: “Me and my teammates took a knee today during the national anthem to speak for those who are oppressed. As Razorback student-athletes, we have a platform to do that,” (Brantley). Another team member expressed their intention was to openly display their feelings, not to dishonor the military in any way.

They received full support from both coach, Jimmy Dykes, and UA Athletic Director, Jeff Long, beforehand. Long defended the women’s decision: “In this country, we value everyone's right to voice their opinions and views. University campuses are places of learning and thus places where differences of opinion and varying perspectives are recognized. We respect the rights of our student-athletes and all individuals to express themselves on important issues in our nation,” (Brantley).

Long, Dykes, and the team were condemned harshly in the wake of the event. A lot of comments were made on a forum for the University of Arkansas sports, hogville.net. Many demanded that the girls be punished by rescinding their scholarships. But some defended the women by arguing that this type of self-expression is exactly what makes America “American”. Below are some screenshots from the forum.

 

 

The women made a collective decision to stand during the National Anthem for the remainder of the season. Still determined to bring about positive change, the women founded “Project Unify” to “create a set of key topics that will initiate discussions to enhance understanding between the different members of our community,” (Shadid).

One of the players, Jailyn Mason, expresses her hope for the organization and the issues they hope to tackle: “Topics may range from police policies to youth programming. Ultimately, we hope these discussions lead to a community event and hopefully change in our society,” (Shadid).

 

Works Cited:

Cook, Lauren. “The Origins of Kneeling during the National Anthem.” Am New York, 27 Sept. 2017, www.amny.com/news/nfl-players-kneeling-during-national-anthem-how-colin-kaepernick-started-a-movement-and-why-1.14287523.

Hickey, Walter. “And Now Here Are The Most Conservative States In America...” Business Insider, Business Insider, 4 Feb. 2013, www.businessinsider.com/most-conservative-states-2013-2.

Shadid, Trent. “Arkansas Women's Basketball Players Will No Longer Kneel during National Anthem.” SEC Country, SEC Country, 9 Nov. 2016, www.seccountry.com/arkansas/arkansas-womens-basketball-players-will-no-l....

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