Yet another citizen has protested police brutality and racial oppression in the sports arena. A black woman performing the national anthem prior to an NBA preseason game in Miami knelt as she sang.
Before dropping to her knee to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Denasia Lawrence opened her jacket to reveal a “Black Lives Matter” shirt. She then dropped to her left knee and performed the song at half-court, according to the Associated Press.
The social worker posted on Facebook on Saturday, saying in part, “Right now, we’re seeing a war on Black & Brown bodies—we’re being unjustly killed and overly criminalized. I took the opportunity to sing AND kneel; to show that we belong in this country AND that we have the right to respectfully protest injustices against us. I took the opportunity to sing AND kneel to show that, I too, am America.”
She continued: “I didn’t get paid to sing the national anthem; nor was this moment about any sort of fame. Black Lives Matter is far larger than a hashtag, it’s a rallying cry. And until our cry is rightfully heard, protests will still happen and demands will still be made!”
Ever since San Francisco 76ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has not stood during the anthem in support of the sanctity of black lives, athletes from many sports—and many levels, from youth all the way to professional—have followed his lead in various ways.
The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.
“At the end of the day, to each his own,” said Heat guard Wayne Ellington. “If she feels like that’s the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her.”
A few weeks back, white anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.
“All I can say is, what we’ve seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday in New York City. “It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do.”
AP reports that Miami Heat officials said they had no advance knowledge of Lawrence’s plan to protest.
Read more at the Associated Press.