We’re a week from the NFL’s “Opening Night” and Colin Kaepernick is still being blackballed. But the pressure is continuing to mount on the NFL. In the last week alone, a dozen Cleveland Browns players took a knee during the national anthem – including the first white player to join the protest, more than 1,000 people rallied outside the NFL’s headquarters in support of Kaepernick, and at Sunday night’s Video Music Awards, hip hop artist Cardi B pledged to millions of viewers, “Colin Kaepernick, as long as you kneel with us, we’re gonna be standing for you.”1 2 3
With all eyes on the NFL in the lead up to “Opening Night” will you help us rally fans to support Kaepernick in an all out advertising blitz? With billboards, mobile ads and Facebook ads, we’ll call on each team’s fans to kneel during the anthem opening weekend in support of Kaepernick.
Our country is the middle of a 21st century Civil Rights Movement, with our lives, freedom and dignity still under attack. We have a president standing on the backs of avowed white nationalists, who just over a month ago told police they should “get rough” on people. The stakes couldn’t be higher for us and for the future of our children.
It is no small thing that Kaepernick and others have spoken out and used their bodies to express the desire to see a long overdue national dialogue on justice, dignity, and accountability in our country. And it is frankly alarming that instead of welcoming that dialogue, NFL owners insist on banding together to chill free speech and send a message that speaking out against government sanctioned violence is a career killer. When you factor in that 70% of NFL players are Black and yet the NFL has no Black people who are a majority owner of a team and no Black CEOs or Presidents, this is even more disquieting.
Despite that, these athletes continue to put themselves in harm’s way by doing this. In Week 3 of the preseason, there were at least six games at which a player joined the anthem protest.4 And it’s not just stars and household names joining the protests, but players who have a very real fear of being cut from their team’s roster before the season starts next week. History continues to teach us that their courage likely comes at risk of financial and professional repercussions, public ostracism, and numerous death threats to them and their loved ones. We’ve said it before and we say it again: When those that have a public platform, use that platform to speak truth to power, we need to have their backs.
Until justice is real,
— Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Evan, Jade, Anika, Corina and the rest of the Color Of Change team.
1. “‘12 Browns players kneel in prayer over racial, social injustice,” ESPN, 22 August 2017. http://act.colorofchange.org/
2. “Kaepernick’s Protest Cascades Into Protests Over His Job Situation,” New York Times, 23 August 2017. https://act.colorofchange.org/
3. “2017 VMAs preach politics with anti-white supremacy, Colin Kaepernick commentary,” USA Today, 27 August 2017. https://act.colorofchange.org/
4. “As Anthem Protests Expand, Fans Speak Out Strongly, Pro and Con,” Sports Illustrated, 28 August 2017. https://act.colorofchange.org/