Saying NFL players are protesting the flag is like saying Rosa Parks was protesting bus transportation. pic.twitter.com/xr1rsYMrWP— ATTN: (@attn) September 27, 2017
The digital advocacy group and video media platform released the video yesterday (September 27). Players Eric Reid, Marquise Goodwin and Dontae Johnson appear in short clips where they express their stances against systemic oppression and each conclude by saying, “I support Colin Kaepernick.” The video intercuts these segments with subtitled photos explaining why protests like Kaepernick’s are motivated by racial justice advocacy and are not anti-American:
Saying NFL players are protesting the flag is like saying Rosa Parks was protesting bus transportation. These protests have always been about police brutality and systemic injustice in America.
The video is the latest project for Color of Change’s multifaceted National Football League (NFL) campaign, which demands that the league meaningfully address and commit to fighting racist policies. In an emailed statement about the video, Color of Change notes that Reid, Goodwin and Johnson cosigned the organization’s new open letter of solidarity with Kaepernick. The letter includes the following passage:
It is no small thing that Colin Kaepernick spoke out and sparked a long overdue national dialogue on justice, dignity and accountability. His actions influenced athletes across a variety sports from elementary school to the professional leagues to hold true to one’s values—no matter the cost. But what should be the cost of a peaceful, silent protest? For Kaepernick, it may very well be his career.
We cannot stand by and let this happen. Despite success on the field and a solid reputation in the locker room, Kaepernick has been blackballed and driven from the profession he loves because he dared to exercise his right to peacefully protest the treatment of Black and Brown people in the U.S. Even if we disagree with what he says or how he says it, the message the league is sending is loud and clear: “If you speak your mind, you lose your career.” And if we say it is okay for him, then what does it mean for you the next time you speak the truth of your convictions?
Many NFL players and team owners kneeled, linked arms and stayed in their locker rooms during the pre-game national anthem over the weekend. Kaepernick’s protests always specifically targeted police violence against Black Americans, but critics say teams’ recent actions detract attention from his cause. Color of Change called NFL executives’ bluff in another video released Tuesday (September 26):
Another Color of Change petition demands the league act on the Players Coalition’s request to “declare November a month of social activism to advance racial justice causes, including criminal justice reform.” The letter addresses accusations that the league intentionally blackballed Kaepernick, who is still a free agent, because of his advocacy:
To this day, Colin Kaepernick remains blackballed by league owners, six of whom donated $1M each to Donald Trump, despite public acknowledgement from elite quarterbacks around the league from Cam Newton to Aaron Rodgers to Tom Brady that Kaepernick is more talented that numerous QBs who have jobs today. Equivocation and calls for unity from the league are no longer acceptable.
NFL spokesperson Joe Lockhart told The Associated Press today (September 28) that “political forces” overtook the protests’ messaging, and that the “lesson has been forgotten.” Lockhart’s comments, like those from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, do not name racism as an original protest target.