NFL players kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against police brutality has continued to be a controversial subject around the country. Political figures, such as President Trump, have condemned the demonstrations as unpatriotic even though the players have denied any disrespect toward the flag or service-members. Critics have questioned what the overall objective of the protests are, and what dissenting players are ultimately trying to accomplish. One answer to that question is solidifying political power, as demonstrated over the weekend when every player for the Miami Dolphins registered to vote.
On December 7, the team announced that they are working with the Drum Major Institute and RISE Initiative for all their players to become registered voters. According to a representative from the Drum Major Institute, the Dolphins have made history by becoming the first professional team to have a complete roster of registered voters.
The league-wide kneeling demonstrations have proved effective in bringing attention to the issue of racial inequality, and the players have made slow gains in taking the league to task on social activism. This latest move by the Dolphins is an interesting new development, and begs the question what role this all will play -- if any -- in the highly anticipated 2018 midterm elections. Additionally, Florida (where the Dolphins are based) is currently considering an important effort to give voting rights to non-violent ex-offenders, with a ballot initiative currently underway to get the issue up for a statewide vote in 2018.
What you can do:
The racial justice organization Color of Change has made supporting the protesting NFL players part of its mission. #Superpowerchange is their new campaign to teach others how they can engage with athletes who are making a difference on social issues.
Color of Change is standing with NFL players who have chosen to kneel during the anthem. Sign their petition demanding that the league creates a player’s platform that will protect the players’ right to protest and speak out against injustice without penalty.
Also, if you’re interested in creating a change, make sure you’re registered to vote too. Although America’s electoral system isn’t perfect, voting is an important act of civic engagement that can have major impact on your day-to-day life—especially if you don’t participate. Don’t waste any time and register today!
And then some:
Last week, Colin Kaepernick — the former quarterback that first kicked off the NFL protests and has since been blackballed by the league— received awards from both the ACLU and Sports Illustrated for his willingness to use his platform to fight inequality no matter the consequences for his career.
On December 6, Kaepernick also received the Creative Citizenship award from the Puffin Foundation and the Nation Institute for his activist work.