As we prepare to bring back the National Football League, the league’s front office has decided that they would like to show support for the current racial issues in America by having the Negro/Black National Anthem played at games along with the National Anthem. Well, let me not be the bearer of bad news, but NFL, I think you’re “stance” on racial injustice is a little out of touch. And here’s why:
Let’s go back, even before Kap and the knee, but to why the Negro National Anthem was even written. The song, Lift Every Voice and Sing, was written as poem by James Weldon Johnson in 1899 while many southern black Americans were still enslaved or fighting the oppressions of inequality. Written to encourage African-Americans to continue in their plight to attain equality, the song has always been considered The “Black” National anthem.
Why should that “Matter” in this case? Well, by attempting to unify people the NFL may be in affect, doing the exact opposite. By playing the song, you’re almost forced to acknowledge that there are in fact 2 America’s (or more, but for time’s sake we’ll stick with 2). That African-Americans have been pledging allegiance to an America that hasn’t fully acknowledged them as an equal part of society. And, that The National Football league has had hand in perpetuating this concept of an unequal America.
I already hear the arguments, “So what they should do nothing?” or “Well, what is the right answer?”. Unfortunately there isn’t one. There is the answer that is going to be the least threatening to their bottom line, and this I suppose is it. Because, if the NFL did nothing, especially in the wake of repeated violence against African-Americans at the hands of the police, they would likely be dealing with some serious backlash from players and fans.
However, to me, and I repeat I speak for myself, what the league is doing is making it’s African-American athletes target for more hate and derogatory remarks from fans that are not in agreement with the advancement of African-Americans in this country. You know the “All Lives Matter” folks. Who, if we’re being honest have a very circular argument in principle, have an argument with support from prominent people.
But, let’s assume everyone plays nicely and the song being played doesn’t cause any outward backlash, what if any added benefit to the fans and players is the league expecting to get from this? That you played a song written for oppressed people to gain equality? Great! Or, here’s a thought, you could put systems in place that help your African-American players close the wealth gap in their communities, build better family structures, teach them to be better moral characters, fathers, brothers, leaders. One example, mandatory financial management programs for players to have the opportunity to get involved in sound investments.
Now I know, from the comfort of this keyboard telling a multi-billion dollar business what to do with their time and money is easy. But, if we’re being honest with ourselves, the NFL knows it can impact the racial climate in America, this little act of “kindness” could’ve remained in the pocket. You want to show America you are concerned about the racial injustices that still exist, put your money where your mouth is!