For months, the NFL has been embroiled in controversy over players kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and other injustices disproportionately affecting people of color. On Sunday, when the Oakland Raiders played the New England Patriots in Mexico City, running back Marshawn Lynch sat during the anthem, but stood for the Mexican national anthem.
Lynch has silently protested all season, and after a Raiders preseason game he told head coach Jack Del Rio he was simply continuing his tradition of sitting out the national anthem for the past 11 years. Lynch’s protest is in solidarity with other players and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who was among the first players to protest by kneeling. The protest has drawn the ire of many critics, including President Trump.
Trump has been a constant critic of the players protesting during the anthem, and specifically lashed out against Lynch on Twitter, calling for the NFL to suspend him.
Others on social media decried Lynch’s action as hypocritical, noting the unrest in Mexico between the government and the police.
Lynch has yet to respond to the criticism from the president or the few NFL fans that took issue with his demonstration on Sunday.
What You Can Do:
Despite mounting pressure from the league owners and political figures, NFL players have continued to protest racial inequality by taking a knee. Student athletes in high schools and colleges as well as athletes from around the world have taken a knee as well during the anthem in solidarity with the players movement.
Color of Change, a racial justice organization, is amplifying the work of politically engaged players throughout the month of November. As part of their Athletes and Activism month, Color of Change is encouraging athletes of all levels to speak out against injustice and inequality.
Also, Color of Change is getting people to sign a petition for the NFL to create a player’s platform, which will allow the athletes to protest without fear of retaliation or censorship. The platform also includes the league advocating on behalf of criminal justice reform.
And Then Some:
The CEO and co-Founder of NFL sponsor Papa John’s, John Schnatter, is now backtracking his statements after blaming the player protests for his company’s low sales. Following Schnatter’s statements, the company’s stock dropped 13 percent and some former customers threatened to boycott.
In a tweet the company apologized and said it was looking forward to the league and players finding “a positive way forward.”
Although the apology was well intentioned, some people still aren’t buying it.