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NFL punishing players for kneeling is a slap in the face to Blacks in America

Photo: A.R. Shaw

Photo: A.R. Shaw

The NFL recently revealed that they will fine players and organizations for kneeling during the national anthem. The rules were adopted by the NFL owners on May 23 during a meeting in Atlanta. With the ruling, NFL players will not be forced to remain on the field during the national anthem, but they will face a penalty if they protest during the singing of the song.

The owners made the decision without the players or players’ union involved.

The decision to punish players for kneeling is a slap in the face to the issues that are faced by Blacks in America. NFL owners are willing to ignore the reality of racism in order to appease the wishes of a racist who happens to be president. They allowed the bigotry of Donald Trump to shape the narrative of their league.

Trump made a ridiculous fuss about players kneeling and called them, “sons of bitches.” In contrast, he called the racists in Charlottesville, “fine people.” Some NFL players and coaches responded to Trump by kneeling in solidarity in what was a basic mockery of the entire protest that was started by Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick decided to kneel two seasons ago to protest the killing of unarmed Blacks by police officers and other injustices that takes place in America. What started as a silent protest became an issue once highlighted by the media and NFL owners who refused to sign Kaepernick. At this moment, Kaepernick remains unemployed while a slew of quarterbacks with lesser talent are playing on NFL rosters.

Over 70 percent of players in the NFL are Black. But their fight to shed light on important issues is not an important issue for NFL owners. The ruling is also a violation of the players’ First Amendment rights as NFL players can be fined for not standing for a flag that is supposed to represent freedom. The hypocrisy of the NFL owners is appalling on all levels. But a true change will not come until every Black player decides to take a stand and threaten to boycott a league that can’t survive without them.