African-Americans have went through unspeakable acts of hatred and violence over the course of United States history. Racial discrimination rates have been high since the 20th century when segregation and Jim Crow Laws were enacted. Currently, the United States has not made a lot of progress as a socially, when examining racial discrimination.
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Due to the suppression of freedom and diversity through social media, racist extremists always being a threat, and the President of the United States who always strives for this kind of thinking at his rallies. A relevant example of racism in the United States would be the treatment of African-Americans in the NFL who protest the national anthem. These African-Americans who were protesting the national anthem were criticized for their acts being unpatriotic and for expressing their opinion which many NFL owners dislike. Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the football player protesting the national anthem which lead to a controversial moment for African-Americans in the United States. According to Infobase Learning, “San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the protest movement in August 2016 in response to a series of incidents in which police shot and killed young, unarmed black men” (“www.icof.infobaselearning.com”). Racism and police brutality were the main reasons for protesting the national anthem. Since 2016 many players have protested the “Police brutality and racial injustice in the United States”, by “Sitting, kneeling, raising their fists, or remained in the locker room while the national anthem played (“www.icof.infobaselearning.com”). Many believe that those who protest the national anthem should be fired or arrested for it. A poll by CBS News/YouGov for athletes using their fame to talk about politics or issues states:
41% of people voted yes, but only on their own time. 32% of people voted yes, whenever they want to. 27% of people voted no, they should not. (“www.icof.infobaselearning.com”)
This situation proves that there has been little evolution socially in the United States. This is having an overarching impact on more than the NFL, but on the African-American race’s limited freedom in today’s society.
A question one may ask is whether these African-American football players are right for protesting the National Anthem? One way to answer this question is to examine the facts of the situation. First off, the first amendment freedoms do cover this act, through the freedom of speech and the freedom to petition. According to Procon.org, “Not standing for the national anthem is a legal form of peaceful protest, which is a first amendment right” (“www.procon.org”). Protesting may be the opposite of patriotism, but it still is one’s own opinion, which cannot be taken away from any individual in the United States. For all the hard work African-American football players go through, they should be able to express their own opinion. The Guardian said in their article about Cowboys owner demanding that all players stand for the national anthem that:
Last week, the NFL and the players’ union agreed to suspend the rule approved by owners this spring that gave players the option of staying in the locker room while allowing teams to discipline players who took a knee or sat during the anthem. (Press, Associated. “www.theguardian.com”)
If the owner, fans, and politicians will be rude or racist to the players, then the players should be able to give them their point of view and stance on issues. For example, recently a superintendent in Texas “resigned after his controversial comments about Deshaun Watson”, this this is one of many examples where the football player does not instigate the problem (KTRK TV. “www.abc13.com”). One could say the African-American players are expanding upon the foundations of America such as liberation, and making changes to unjust circumstances. Procon.org acknowledges this position by stating that a justification for protesting the national anthem is, “When one believes the United States is not living up to its ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice for all, refusing to stand for the national anthem is appropriate and justified” (“www.procon.org”). The American flag’s meaning could arguably have already been diminished amidst the rise of racial discrimination being influenced by the Trump administration and its supporters. At one of his rallies, Trump got his crowd fired up by stating a hypothetical where the NFL says “Get that son of a b**** off the field right now, out. He’s fired.”, when one does not stand for the national anthem (Gottlieb, Jeremy, and Mark Maske.” Go.galegroup.com”). Now that the the reasons for if kneeling is right has been examined, the next question is should kneeling be covered by the first amendment?
Often when one sees these protests of the national anthem at football games on television or in person. Eventually the question arises, does protesting the national anthem in public get covered by the first amendment freedoms? Many would answer yes, due to citizens of the United States having the freedom of speech and petition which are unalienable rights. However, there are some complications when discussing this topic as well as the fact that it may not always be black and white. Even though it may be offensive to some, the African-American players are protesting something that has yet to change. This something according to Infobase Learning is:
The outcry over these deaths, several of which had been caught on camera and shared widely on the Internet, yielded a controversial protest movement called Black Lives Matter. Activists in this movement argue that such shootings”and the lack of professional or penal consequences for many police officers. (“www.icof.infobaselearning.com”)
The founding fathers of the United States fought for the basic rights to speak against what is wrong as well as the ability to say it without persecution. An example of how freedom of speech at times can be restricted is, when Colin Kaepernick got fired for starting the kneeling during the national anthem act even though he is more capable than some quarterbacks in the NFL. The cause for protesting proves offensive to those that are racist and unpatriotic of America’s foundations and principles. The New York Times wrote an article about the two high school football players in Texas kicked off the team for protesting the national anthem. In this article it is stated that the high school football players wanted to “End racial injustice and the oppression of black people”, through protesting the national anthem (Fortin, Jacey. “Go.galegroup.com”). What one may not know is that through all of the hatred and threats, African-Americans are supported for protesting the national anthem.
Support for national anthem protesting is rare, but it is still out there and has heavy supporters to the cause. Roger Goodell is a supporter of the cause who has defended the player’s freedom of speech, especially from Trump’s remarks. Goodell still has the player’s best interest in mind as commissioner of the NFL despite making a new policy earlier this year over the kneeling. Nike endorsed Colin Kaepernick for an ad campaign in 2018, which made Kaepernick’s jersey be a Nike top seller for a great period of time. Unfortunately, Nike received heavy backlash for this move, and plentiful amounts of people that decided to boycott the company. Protesting the national anthem is seen as a courageous act, and has contributed heavily to the Black Lives Matter movement. According to Infobase Learning, “Critics of Black Lives Matter argue that the police officers in these situations acted in self-defense, and they accuse protesters of irresponsibly stoking anti-police sentiment” (“www.icof.infobaselearning.com”).
When being interviewed about getting kicked off his high school football team for protesting the national anthem, Cedric Ingram-Lewis stated, ”That’s not our intent. That wasn’t Kaepernick’s intent when he first kneeled, it was about police brutality and racial injustice” (Fortin, Jacey. “Go.galegroup.com”). Many defend African-Americans who kneel by arguing that it is protected by the first amendment. Even though coach Mitchem kicked two high school players off his team for protesting the national anthem, he still respects that individuals have the right to protest. Coach Mitchem stated in an interview that, ”I believe everybody has a right to protest, and I let those guys do their protests. But the rule was, if you did this protest, you wouldn’t be on the team” (Fortin, Jacey. “Go.galegroup.com”). Now that the way African-Americans are supported for protesting the national anthem has been analyzed, it is time to examine the way African-Americans are mistreated for not standing during the national anthem.
African-American football players are mistreated for kneeling during the national anthem more so than they are supported for it. The ways that they are mistreated include loss of jobs, discriminatory threats, and the expectations of the players to keep their opinions to themselves.
The players who protest the national anthem often lose their jobs, due to disrespecting the audience which lowers the broadcasting ratings. According to the BBC, Trump tweeted that the broadcasting ratings are lower this season than last season and that “If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back?”, implying Trump knows how to solve the problem (Editors, BBC. “www.bbc.com”). Players who protest often get racist hate mail and threats from NFL fans, and critics of the movement.
The players who do not stand during the national anthem are targeted by many including the president, which causes more discrimination. Trump said at his rally, “Such an owner would be the most popular person in this country. Because that’s a total disrespect of our heritage… if fans were to leave the stadium, I guarantee things will stop” (Gottlieb, Jeremy, and Mark Maske. “Go.galegroup.com”).
The players are expected to keep their opinions to themselves and just play football as if they are nothing, but property to the team owners. Eventually it becomes less about the players, and more abore about what they produce as a result. An example of this would be the way Cowboys owner Jerry Jones treats his team stating that it is all about the service “too many people, too many customers”, they have to please in order to keep the franchise financially successful (Press, Associated. “www.theguardian.com”). Whether these football players are mistreated or supported for not participating during the national anthem. One may question whether it is fair or unfair what happens to these players for using their freedom of speech and petition.
There are many effects to the players who protest the national anthem, however many of the effects end up doing more damage than before. Are the effects of the players not standing during the national anthem fair or unfair? First off is unfair effects, in NFL history, not only have African-American players been better in numbers, but the African-American coaches have been statistically better than whites. A few examples of these statistics according to ACS Law would be, “Black coaches averaged 1.1 more wins per year than white coaches. Black coaches led their teams to the playoffs more frequently than white coaches” (Proxmire, Douglas. “www.acslaw.org”). Due to one trying to make a change in the United States, but it is seen as just simply disrespecting the American flag and military even though that is far from the point of the protests. Coach Mitchem also stated in his interview that “the teenagers’ demonstration was offensive to people who served in the military”, this is one of many examples where the point of the protests have been wrongly deceived (Fortin, Jacey. “Go.galegroup.com”).
Now that the effects that are unfair have been examined, it is time to examine the effects that are fair for the player’s actions. One’s own belief may be offending manu who believe protesting the national anthem is wrong, which in its own right is wrong. Just because one has an opinion and has the right to establish that opinion does not mean one should do to their surroundings. An example of this is stated by Procon.org “When a national figure such as an NFL player refuses to stand for the national anthem, it shocks people into paying attention and generates conversation”, the shock factor is what gains the most attention in this scenario (“www.procon.org”). It can be arguable that that the true cause of the protesting was lost a while ago and it became a publicity stunt for those attention hungry. This is due to others such as high schoolers participating in the protest movement, The New York Times reported that, “One student, Cedric Ingram-Lewis, 16, raised a fist in the air while the anthem played. The other, Larry McCullough, 18, got down on one knee. In response, their coach told them to hand over their uniforms” (Fortin, Jacey. “Go.galegroup.com”). All of the effects have been taken into account, the next step is evaluate all information.
African-Americans are having it rough in the NFL because of all of the disrespect, racism, hatred, and overall discrImination. ACS Law wrote that the league understood there were more Caucasian coaches than African-Americans as thye state that “under-representation of African-Americans among NFL head coaches was a problem”, they knew there was racial bias in the NFL and did nothing to change that until the Rooney Rule in 2008 (Proxmire, Douglas. “www.acslaw.org”). African-American football players have learned to ignore the disrespect from the public, NfL, and the team owners. This is apparent when Jerry Jones comments on Trump’s interference with the national anthem conflict, “His interest in what we’re doing is problematic from my chair and I would say, in general, in the owner’s chairs” (Press, Associated. “www.theguardian.com”). Not only are the players supported for kneeling, but they also get mistreated and criticized for protesting the national anthem. This not only impacts the players, but the race and culture as a whole due to the aftermath of all the protesting creating more discrimination than before. An example of this would be how a superintendent of Onalaska county in Texas tweeted racist comments about Deshaun Watson and was forced to resign due to it. A resident in Onalaska stated that they “The comments had me physically ill. It showed me his heart, and it wasn’t good”, his comment showed his true colors which shocked many, but did not publicly effect Deshaun Watson at all (KTRK TV. “www.abc13.com”).
Protesting movements have affected many things other than the people involved, and this movement is no different. Such as the diversity and new jobs made in the NFL to make sure it is racially balanced, according to ACS Law, “In the five years since the Rooney Rule has been implemented, the number of minority hires in the NFL coaching has increased… the NFL raised its grade for race to a solid B+ approaching an A- with a score of 88.5 out of 100” (Proxmire, Douglas. “www.acslaw.org”). The most notable effect is that it has caused a political uproar between United States politics and NFL players. This protest movement was needed for the African-American’s voice to be heard which lead to opening the public’s eyes to how African-Americans are treated in modern day. Even though the NFL stopped the movement, it is still apparent in the United States due to high school football players still protesting the national anthem and others. This was just a step to eliminate racial discrimination, which the Rooney Rule help try to end by adding more diversity to the NFL. It is a known fact that the “rule appears to have helped reduce the ‘unconscious bias’ that remains pervasive in the NFL”, which is the main reason why the Rooney Rule was ever created (Proxmire, Douglas. “www.acslaw.org”). Hopefully there will not be a next time, and racial discrimination will not exist in the near future.
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