By Jeff Thomas

Fans booed as players kneeled to protest racial inequality and police brutality.  President Trump insists the protests are disrespecting the military and our country’s heritage.  Last year, Colin Kaepernick started sitting down during the national anthem to protest the police being allowed to kill unarmed black men with impunity.  Now teams are locking arms, and kneeling before the national anthem. In fact only a few players are continuing to protest during the national anthem.  Yet the boo birds are loud and clear.  They don’t want their entertainers reminding them of life issues.  Booing those who are peacefully using their platform is more about class envy and expectations of highly paid athletes of color.

And while it’s important to point out that mostly white fans have expectations of docility and gratefulness from black athletes towards them, another important issue must be parsed.  The idea that black athletes cannot identify or lobby for the rights of black people is an integral part of the exchange of adoration and money for whites.   In fact, black athletes are ascribed supernatural gifts.  Beast, a freak, a horse or an animal are frequent descriptions of black athletes.  Even when their play is particularly clever, they are credited with high football IQ.  Whites fans restrictions on black athletes behavior are a part of the bargain.

For years only the biggest names would dare challenge this notion that in exchange for riches and adoration, black athletes had to be silent on social issues.  Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russel, and lately Kaepernick were just some of the brave souls who dared speak openly about the ills of society.   But now we have league wide team protests.  But these protests are not about police brutality or racial inequality.  These protests are a response to President Trump.  And these new  protests are being whitewashed in the process. 

The issue of police brutality and racial inequality is not why teams are locking arms and kneeling prior to the national anthem.  Teams are advocating for free speech and the right to protest.  Only a few believers in these notions are actually fighting for racial equality and against police brutality and kneeling during the anthem. One of the great frustrations of African American life is the reframing by whites of an African American perspective into something it is not at all about. Since evidently Blacks are not intelligent enough to completely express themselves, whites, who would rather never address an African American criticism, rephrase the complaint into a punishable offense.  The boos from white fans are a distraction form the issues of racial inequality and police brutality in the black community.  The boos from the white fans invoke Trump huge doses of white privilege.  White fans loudly remind the protesting players that their kneeling is actually about attacking the military and disrespecting our country.  The black perspective is forbidden in sports.

Another of the great frustrations of African American life is the constant lessening of the African American perspective.  A local newspaper now asserts that African Americans should be happy to be fortunate enough to live in America. After all, according to this article, “the bottom 10 percent in America have it better than the top 10 percent in Russia, Portugal and Mexico.”   And athletes make millions of dollars.  Forget high levels of poverty in black communities.  Forget uneven access to capital and resources.  Just stop all this complaining and be content with your lot in life. It could be worse.  You get the idea that life would be so much simpler if these blacks would just stop all the bitching and moaning and just accept that the black condition in America will not get any better here though it’s better than three other countries in the world.

Generally, whites view the black progress as white oppression.  Blacks being allowed into colleges means fewer whites are allowed into college.  And as if there are a limited number expressions of free speech available for blacks to utter, whites change a protest about police brutality into an attack on the military.  Despite the fact that African Americans serve in the military   at a higher rate than whites, painting blacks as unpatriotic fits neatly into a limiting narrative within which whites prefer to see blacks.  Prone to criminality. Check.  Untrustworthy. Double check.  Unpatriotic.  A chorus of boos.  The benefits to maintain a system that provides first and direct access to profits motivates even the least likely and poorest white to work to protect the status quo in America.

The steadfast holdouts who continue to protest during the anthem may help shine light on the issues of racial inequality. The boos will grow louder. Players protest at risk to their careers.  But so did Muhammad Ali.


One thought on “Why Fans Are Booing Pre Anthem Protests”
  1. Great piece Jeff!!! You are absolutely correct. This has little to with the flag and a lot to do with disrespect. Disrespect of over 40 million people, your countrymen, most of whom are descendants of a people who your forefathers, the first and worst human traffickers in history, stole from their homeland and imposed the worst form of human bondage in history, “Chattel Slavery”, on them for their and your subsequently inherited prosperity. Disrespect of the first man (like thousands of his kind that followed him) to die (in the 1st of several American wars/conflicts, even to this day), Crispus Attucks, for the freedom symbolized by the flag that some of you celebrate with your “fake patriotism”. The same flag that we’ve pledge our allegiance to for nearly 400 years and “the republic” that it stands for but have never received the same “liberty & justice for all”. Most of you fake patriots obviously do not know what a republic is. “A republic is a country in which the citizens are sovereign and govern through elected representatives. In a republic, leaders of government are subject to the law like everyone else. Republics thrive when citizens cultivate civic virtue and participate in public affairs.” ( “A state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. 2. any body of persons viewed as a commonwealth. 3. a state in which the head of government is not a monarch or other hereditary head of state.” ( In short, the republic, is the people!!! Let me put it this way, the flag stands for the people, (regardless whether or not) the people, do or don’t, stand for the flag. Likewise, the liberty & justice for all, stands for and is supposed to apply to, the whole republic. That is what the protest is about. I stand with Colin (& Jemele), not for them, because they stand for me.
    In elementary school I had a teacher who would always say, “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.” In that regard, the generations of African Americans after the passage of Civil Rights Legislation of the 60’s, have at least one thing in common with the majority of the electorate that voted for Donald Trump, they fall for anything because they stand for nothing. That silence is consent. This is why we protest. Protest has never, in and of themselves, changed the state of affairs in any society. It’s the action taken after the protest, when the protest falls on deaf ears, that causes things to change. Protest is notification to the perpetrator(s) that the person (or people) don’t like, want or are being harmed by the action done to them and want it to stop. In other words, if I don’t tell you I don’t like what you doing to me how, when or why would you stop doing? My silence, from your perspective, could be considered consent. On the other hand, if you repeatedly witness a harmful or criminal act done but don’t say or do anything to stop it, you too are in essence saying you condone what is happening by your silence.
    This country was founded on dissent. The fact that fewer Americans know, value and understanding this is a reflection of the effectiveness of the attack on public education (K-12) and independent thought at institutes of higher learning (colleges & universities), by greedy, hording, lovers of money more than lovers of humanity, commonly referred to as, the <1%, oligarchy or central bankers. It is also evidence of the power of that minority to control and influence the masses by cultural conditioning (through pledges of allegiance & national anthems), propaganda (commercial television & radio) and social engineering (reality TV, the internet & social media). Why should black people, (people of color, LBGTQ and poor American citizens) stand for a flag and a country doesn’t stand for them? Why should we pledge or show allegiance to a country where the majority don’t (and never have) shown any allegiance to us? No one will stand for us until we start standing for our self, first.

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