Colin Kaepernick began protesting during the anthem to bring awareness to the issue of police brutality against black and brown Americans. His message got lost in the method, but his message has become clearer than ever in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd.
Given the awakening that the Floyd murder has sparked, Chargers running back Justin Jackson raised an intriguing question when talking to reporters on Wednesday: Will anthem protests during the coming football season still be necessary to bring attention to a problem of which everyone is now aware?
“It’s like a perfect storm,” Jackson said, via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. “I think people are finally starting to see, he was right [in] … what he was talking about then. . . . He should feel very vindicated. . . . I’m glad that now it’s changed, the narrative has changed and the majority of people are seeing exactly what he was talking about, and what a lot of people have been talking about, screaming about, for a long time.”
Given that there will still be plenty of people who link kneeling with “disrespect” (even though the protests aren’t and never were about disrespecting anyone or anything), Jackson seems to think kneeling during the anthem should be reconsidered.
“Now that that light has shined and that’s kind of really exposed . . . the way I’m thinking of it, the best methodology moving forward is to do everything we can with our platform to effect that positive change,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if [kneeling] will have the most net positive outcome because of the way it gets so, such a hyperpartisan issue, really because they don’t want to talk about the real issue. Nevertheless, I think if we just use our platforms like we are now to continue to expose and advocate for the change we want to see in society, that might be the best method going forward. But we’ll see.”
The NFL’s regular season begins three months from tonight. Three months ago from tomorrow night, the coronavirus turned the world upside. Which means that many things can and will change in that same period of time. Could it be that there will be enough change in the next three months that kneeling simply isn’t needed?
That’s probably a little too optimistic, given the amount of change that needs to be made. Maybe the biggest change that will come in the next three months is that only a small percentage of people will continue to conflate kneeling with “disrespect,” ultimately making anthem protests something that won’t be divisive, despite the best efforts of people who hold Bibles upside down as political props to make it so.