Yesterday, NFL Owners came together and approved a new NFL policy which stated that NFL players and coaches do not have to be on the field for the National Anthem but those who do must “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.”
Many people have problems with the NFL.Whether it be because of its history with domestic violence, the safety and mental health of its players or the fact that it’s pretty much impossible to like Roger Goodell, the nation’s most popular sport is not without its fair share of controversy.
But I’m not here to write about those controversies.
I’m here to talk to you about why we need diversity in the groups that lead our organizations.
The ownership of the 32 NFL teams is almost entirely white. 29 teams have white owners, one team is governed by shareholders but represented by a white CEO, one team is owned by a Pakistani immigrant, and one is owned by an Asian woman and her white husband.
These 30 white people came together and made this decision for a league whose players are almost 70% Black and stripped the players of their ability to bring awareness to and advocate to change problems that primarily affect people of color in this country.
By taking away this this platform the owners decided to suppress a well intentioned movement that its players are using to create real change in communities of color across the country.
The owners got it wrong.
In September of 2016, Colin Kaepernick decided that he would use his platform as an NFL quarterback to bring attention to serious issues and systemic injustices that face our country. He put his career on the line to do it.
He first sat during the National Anthem, then after meeting with former Green Beret Nate Boyer he decided to kneel as a way to be more respectful in his nonviolent protest. Boyer stood next to Kaepernick in support of the protest as he kneeled for the first time.
Since being blackballed from the NFL, Kaepernick has donated over $1 million to over 41 charities and dozens of NFL players have continued to kneel in support of his protest.
Every time a player kneels for the National Anthem, they remind the thousands of people watching from the stands and the millions of people watching at home of the injustices that exist in our country.
Every time they kneel they challenge the undefeated reign of white supremacy in this country and the epidemic of police brutality.
Every time they kneel they ensure that the names Amadou Diallo, Rekia Boyd, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Kayla Moore, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Ezell Ford, Walter Scott, Alberta Spruill, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Shantel Davis, Alton Sterling, Stephon Clark and many more are not forgotten.
Every time they kneel they follow in the tradition of protesters like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin whose refusals to accept injustice prompted them and many others to take action to make America better.
Every time they kneel they call on our country to pay attention to injustices in our society.
Every time they kneel they call on our country to do better.
However, the NFL owners were not able to see this.
The lack of diversity in the NFL owners meeting and failure to consult the far more diverse NFL Players Association hindered their ability to understand the movement and its goals.
It led to them making a poor and harmful decision.
It cuts off one of the most important mediums for players to bring conversations about police brutality and racial injustice to the forefront and force people to talk about these issues.
Diverse teams allow for better understanding of the problems at hand, more perspectives to be considered and better solutions to be generated.
It should be no surprise then that this homogeneous group developed such a poor “compromise.”