Welp, it’s official, and if you didn’t see this coming, you haven’t been watching. Surprising only those who still believe in fairy tales like Bigfoot, reverse racism and R. Kelly’s innocence, NFL team owners voted Wednesday to approve a policy that requires all players on the field to stand during the national anthem performance, proving the long-held belief that white feelings are more valuable than black life.
The concession that the NFL has given players who want to protest against the unjust killings of unarmed African-American men, women and children is this: Stay in the locker room if they can’t stand during the protest, which is like telling the people who protested segregated lunch counters that they could hold sit-ins, as long as they did it in the Negro section of the diner.
If a player takes the field and decides to sit or kneel in protest during the anthem, the team will be fined, and the team has the right to fine those players it deems not having been respectful during the national anthem.
“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, ESPN reports. “We want people to stand—that’s all personnel—and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices.”
While the actual limits of said fines remain unclear, what is clear is that white tears beat out black protest. From the beginning, the Movement for Black Lives protest was never about patriotism. It never mattered that former quarterback Colin Kaepernick consulted former Seahawks player and Green Beret Nate Boyer, who talked Kap into kneeling during the anthem instead of sitting.
“We sorta came to a middle ground where he would take a knee alongside his teammates,” Boyer told CBS Sports following his talk with Kaepernick. “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect. When we’re on a patrol, you know, and we go into a security halt, we take a knee, and we pull security.”
But let us be clear about what Wednesday’s NFL decision means. There is only one way to interpret this new rule. The NFL is saying: “Fuck black people.”
Every poll taken on the kneeling issue shows that most white Americans find kneeling during the anthem inappropriate, while most black people don’t.
While it is fair to say that white Americans are the majority of the NFL’s viewers, it is also reasonable to counter that point with the fact that black people make up the majority of the NFL’s labor force.
It is also important to note that blacks disproportionately make up the population of people shot in the face by police.
None of that matters to the NFL.
It never mattered that Kaepernick and the players explicitly said that the protest was never against the American flag, or America, or veterans. It never mattered that many veterans agreed with the protests. It didn’t even matter that kneeling during the playing of the anthem doesn’t affect the game in any way.
This issue, as with most issues in America, has always been black and white. Black men knelt during the national anthem and white America didn’t like it. So the NFL decided to side with the people whose children are not disproportionately targeted by police The league sided with the white people. It has proved once again that it has no problem with black players hurling their bodies around the field for its viewers’ enjoyment, but when those players are off the field, the league couldn’t care less.
Again, the NFL doesn’t give a damn about black people.
Currently, the police force of Milwaukee is dreading the release of police footage that will reportedly show Milwaukee Bucks rookie Sterling Brown being cooperative and compliant as he is shocked with a Taser and arrested by police.
It is incidents like this that had black players protesting, because the treatment of blacks by police has always been duplicitous.
Even Goodell knows that the white rage against kneeling players is bullshit, but it didn’t stop him from being complicit in the process. The only reason protest or even the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is necessary is that black people believe that white people don’t care about the issue.
Black people think white people would rather ignore the problem. Black people believe that white people care more about money and power than about dead black people. Colin Kaepernick knelt because he believed that no one gave a fuck.
The NFL proved him right.
“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic,” Goodell said. “This is not and was never the case.”
But that doesn’t matter now. The rules have been set in the NFL and in America, and unfortunately, it’s a rule that many of us have known for some time:
Black blood will never trump white tears.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this post stated that Nate Boyer talked Colin Kaepernick into sitting instead of kneeling during the anthem. In fact, he talked Kaepernick into kneeling instead of of sitting.