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Two White NFL Players Openly Support Black Players’ Anthem Protest

“Time for people that look like me” to take a stand

August 21, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Thursday night last week, Chris Long of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles football team, a white player, stood alongside and put his arm around Malcolm Jenkins, his teammate who is Black, as Jenkins raised his clenched fist during the national anthem.

Then on Friday night, another white player, Justin Britt of the Seattle Seahawks, stood alongside and put his arm on the shoulder of Black teammate Michael Bennett as he sat during the anthem. Afterwards the two hugged.

Chris Long was the first white player to openly make a gesture during the anthem in support of the protest started last year by Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers to oppose the murders of people of color by cops.

After the game, Long said, “I think it’s a good time for people that look like me to be here for people that are fighting for equality.”

A graduate of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Long said, “It’s been a hard week for everybody. I think it’s not just a hard week for someone being from Charlottesville. It’s a tough week for America. I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘You need white athletes to get involved in the anthem protest.’ I’ve said before that I’ll never kneel for an anthem because the flag means something different to everybody in this country, but I support my peers.”

Yahoo Sports reported that Long addressed why he supported Malcolm Jenkins: “If you don’t see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don’t think you’ll ever see it. My thing is, Malcolm’s a leader and I’m here to show support as a white athlete.”

Jenkins added, “Stepping out in front of all those people and the obvious attention that is going to be brought to it is not an easy thing to do. I think looking at the atmosphere last year compared to this year, so much has transpired, and in a negative direction, that I think the stakes are almost higher now.”

Michael Bennett, who is continuing this year to sit during the anthem, said several days ago, “It would take a white player to really get things changed, because when somebody from the other side understands and they step up and they speak up about it, it would change the whole conversation. Because you bring somebody who doesn’t really have to be a part of the conversation, making himself vulnerable in front of it, I think when that happens, things will really take a big jump.”

The game after Bennett said this, Britt showed his support for Bennett’s anthem protest.

After the game Britt said, “I want to support what he stands for and his beliefs. I’m not foolish. I’m from Missouri. I get that things are different in that area than they are in some other areas. I’m not against what the flag means and veterans. You know, my dad was in the army. So I’m not putting any disrespect to them. I’m just trying to understand the issues, trying to educate myself more in that regard and showing support.

“And I’m going to continue to understand what’s going on in the world and why it’s happening. None of it’s right. None of it’s what should be happening. I’m going to continue talking with Mike and exploring and just helping myself understand things. I wanted to take a first step tonight. And that’s what I felt like I did.”

As of this time, no white NFL player has sat or raised a clenched fist during the anthem. However, Megan Rapinoe, who is white, sat during the anthem last year during a U.S. women’s team national soccer match.

Let’s see if these gestures by Chris Long and Justin Britt create the sort of “jump” that Michael Bennett spoke about. There needs to be more players of all nationalities in the NFL taking up this anthem protest for this to really go where it needs to be. It needs to be a part of galvanizing millions of people to put a stop to the white supremacy we saw in Charlottesville that is being led from the highest level in the White House.

In a related development, there is growing support for Colin Kaepernick, who is a free agent but has yet to be signed by any NFL team—clearly a target of conscious blackballing by team owners for the determined political stand he is taking. A rally for Kaepernick has been called for August 23 in front of the NFL headquarters in New York City. And the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP has called for a national boycott of the NFL until a team signs Kaepernick



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