"Sorry for the inconvenience, sports fans, but the days of the docile black athlete are over. This isn’t a time to stick to sports. This isn’t a time to be afraid because Kaepernick has been blackballed." These are the words of Washington Post sports writer Jerry Brewer, who believes racists are feeling empowered and whites are mistaken to think we live in a post-racial society.
Brewer believes the "unnerving anecdotal evidence" that the injustices Colin Kaepernick is protesting "have only grown worse in this country." He adds it was clear before and after Charlottesville that "No amount of denial, presidential truth manipulation or optimism can assuage the festering racism, intolerance and all-around misunderstanding in America."
Kaepernick has been condemned to "unofficial NFL exile" for his activism, and Brewer describes this as a "dastardly ploy to scare players back into order." This strategy won't work because the players are not as "self-centered and morally indecent" as the owners and can't ignore what's going on in the world, Brewer writes. "So the activists in the NFL, and all of sports, are multiplying."
Among the most visible during the opening days of the NFL exhibition season were Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett and Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch, who both sat down during the anthem before their games last week. Philadelphia's Malcolm Jenkins and the Los Angeles Rams' Robert Quinn stood for the anthem but raised their fists in defiance. In 1968, doing that got U.S. Olympic sprinters John Carlos and Tommy Smith sent home in disgrace. Now it ignites liberal sports-writers in support.
"There are other sports figures making pleas for change, just like so many concerned citizens. And in the months to come, you should expect many more to speak out," Brewer predicts.
Continuing to forecast the future, Brewer expects history to judge Kaepernick "not as a rogue and defiant objector, but a man ahead of this time who helped spur an important athlete revolution."
Brewer insults fans by saying if they think two minutes of Star Spangled Banner is too much of a distraction from a three-hour game, then "you’re living an awfully petty life. I’m sorry you didn’t get to put extra sprinkles on your ice cream, but there are more important matters." Also, he complains, "If standing for the anthem is a sacred tradition and not a trite habit that the pack follows mindlessly, then more fans need to treat it as such before games. They can’t wait for a terrorist attack to rediscover the importance of it."
Brewer wants conversation to advance past "breathless claims" that protesting athletes are not patriotic":
It must advance to a more thorough consideration of why they’re using their popularity and platforms to make such a fuss. Most of these players aren’t just about the shock value of a protest. They’re in their communities trying to figure out solutions to complicated issues such as police brutality, systematic racism and the rising level of tolerance for violent extremism. We must stop simply calling roll on anthem protesters and start listening to their message.
Brewer evidently missed this, but many paying customers and TV viewers are listening and they're rejecting the veracity of a message that paints cops as pigs and slave patrol and Americans as systemic racists.
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Then Brewer aims for the whites of their eyes:
The biggest problem isn’t just that racists feel empowered again. It’s the willful hibernation of the average, tolerant person. The kind is usually white, believes we’re in a post-racial society and would rather not have meaningful conversations to perform maintenance on complicated American relationships, particularly the white-black dynamic.
Brewer goes on to relate how Dr. Martin Luther King had complained 54 years ago about the "white moderate who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace ..." and who agrees with you in your goal but can't agree with your methods of action.
After attacking white people, Brewer says Dr. King's point is still relevant and "Let's expand it and not just attack white people; plenty of folks are asleep right now. That’s why the athlete’s voice is so powerful and necessary. They get attention. They make people care. Like their stances or not, they will make you react."
After spewing literary incivility, Brewer advocates fighting for what's right in a peaceful manner. "If you want LeBron to shut up and dunk, I have news for you. Enjoy the dunk. But brace for the conversation." This is what Brewer sees as "a moral obligation to react appropriately."
As the athlete activists multiply this fall we'll see how the paying customers and the television viewers respond. I strongly doubt they'll buy this call for more and more social justice activism. They'll vote with their dollar, and it will turn off a lot of Americans. This is why Kaepernick isn't in uniform. More of his angry brand of radicalism isn't what will heal the racial divide.