Photos from Blackout Sundays at Cove Lounge in support of Colin Kaepernick (Photos courtesy of DJ Jon Quick).
Like many NFL fans of color, DJ Jon Quick of WBLS radio station was conflicted going into the 2017 NFL season. He decided to boycott the NFL this season but wanted to do more. The turntable superhero and event planner along with Cove Lounge owner Alyah Horsford-Sidberry discussed exclusively with rolling out their reasons for creating Blackout Sundays at Cove Lounge in Harlem in support of Colin Kaepernick.
Why did you create the Blackout Party in support of Colin Kaepernick?
DJ Jon Quick: I was looking for a venue [for] a pro-Colin Kaepernick weekly event. As much as I love pro football, I just felt uncomfortable supporting it this year, as I strongly believe in his protest and I find it appalling the way the NFL is treating him. As a Black man and football fan, I personally just can’t bring myself to watch the NFL these days because of the raw deal Colin is receiving. I wanted a place where like minds would be able to link up and have a good time. I also wanted a spot willing to stand with me and not show the games on their monitors. That was easier said than done as several Black-owned venues were approached but they refused to not show the games. [DJ Jon Quick declined to name the venues.]
What inspired you to boycott NFL games?
Alyah Horsford-Sidberry: Initially, I was personally inspired to boycott because the NFL blacklisted him because he peacefully protested the flag. Then when the president of our country decided to influence the NFL and called [out] these Black men standing up for the people in the communities they come from, I couldn’t allow my Black-owned business to support the NFL.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Colin Kaepernick.
This statement stirs my emotions. My childhood was heavily influenced by my grandfather, a Marcus Garveyite, who actually moved his family to Africa for a while during that movement, so my grandfather would expect nothing less from me. He raised me to be proud of my race and to actively help my community.
What kind of feedback have you gotten, both positive and negative?
AHS: People [who] are protesting the NFL are happy we are not showing [the games] and if you’re on a date at least one person is happy we are not showing the game! [The] negative impact is many of my customers and friends don’t come anymore because they say they need to see the game. I totally understand their right to their position. The upsetting thing is when they still ask me to show the game knowing my position on the issue.
DJ Quick: The feedback, actually, has been great. A lot of people have praised Cove Lounge and [me] for hosting such an event on Sundays during football season. I️ had asked several other venues to host this party, only to be told they didn’t want to hold a party so political in nature. My response has always been, when did protesting the maltreatment of Black lives become political?
What do you hope to accomplish with your boycott?
AHS: I hope to encourage more people to protest because in numbers we can make a difference. The NFL needs to be held accountable for infringing on a player’s constitutional right to protest by deny employment. And I also hope to further dialogue and activism in our communities.
The NFL playoffs, especially the Super Bowl are huge. Can fans who are boycotting expect a Jon Quick event at Cove Lounge for those days as well?
AHS: Absolutely! There will be a Jon Quick event at Cove Lounge. We are collaborating now! It’s going to spectacular!
This writer sampled some of Alyah and Jon’s favorite items on the Cove Lounge menu because I honestly couldn’t decide what to order. Appetizers like the lobster mac and cheese and island wings were tempting but I chose the fried chicken and red velvet waffle. I was pleasantly surprised by the large portion, and I could feel my tummy smiling as I savored every bite of the chicken and waffles. Alyah’s favorite is the jerk steak with steamed broccoli and it was phenomenal. If you are a beef eater and want a succulent steak with added flavor from the Caribbean, this entrée is for you.
For those who are busy six days a week and need to wind down on Sundays without watching the NFL on Sundays, or for those who want to support a DJ and a venue making a stand, then Blackout Sundays are for you. This sexy venue is also great for date night. If you are a sports fan not watching the NFL, you can still get your sports fix by watching the college and NBA games that are shown on Blackout Sundays.
To keep up with DJ Jon Quick and Blackout Sundays, visit blackoutsundaysnyc.eventbrite.com. You can also follow Jon Quick on Instagram @djjonquick and Cove Lounge @coveloungenyc. Visit CoveLounge.com