“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”
| Rosa Parks
“There’s a lot of racism in this country disguised as patriotism.”
The NBA’s Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum sent an email on Friday reminding its players that they are required to stand during the national anthem. But, they weren’t “required” until 2009. In fact, while we sit down and watch, the NFL is paid to be patriotic. In 2015, it was reported that the Pentagon had spent $6.8 million dollars for these displays of loyalty during sporting games.
And it is was ruled in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette in 1943 that no one could be forced to participate in “patriotic rituals” to include the Pledge of Allegiance. Arguments have been made about respecting the flag but according to the “Flag Code,” kneeling is not included as a sign of disrespect: “While the Code empowers the President of the United States to alter, modify, repeal or prescribe additional rules regarding the Flag, no federal agency has the authority to issue ‘official’ rulings legally binding on civilians or civilian groups.” Certainly, it is not within the President’s power to suggest terminating the employment of private citizens who do not participate.
NFL player Delanie Walker talked about his team’s decision to stay in their locker room during the anthem and afterwards, received death threats. Am I missing something here? Persons want to kill Mr. Walker and members of his family because of his decision to show solidarity with other team members? He doesn’t deserve to live believe he decided to use his body to bring attention to cases of police brutality, misconduct and the criminalization of oppressed people groups?
President Donald Trump tweeted, “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!” But, then why did these persons include racial slurs in their threats to Mr. Walker? I mean, if it is just about a song, a symbol and protesting at the right time, then why the escalation to violence and the choice of words that remind all African Americans of their history of oppression in the United States? If persons have expressed on countless occasions their respect for the military and their rationale for kneeling, then why can’t persons just agree to disagree?
It seems that we are having two different arguments, talking about two different allegiances, participating in two kinds of protests and one is death- defying.