On the weekend of the 53rd annual Super Bowl, most people were concerned with who was going to win. But here at Solid Ground, we were concerned about institutionalized racism, and how it affects Black Americans in a contemporary society riddled with growing amounts of police brutality.
While the Super Bowl resulted in the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3, there are names and numbers far more important than these. They include Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and unfortunately so many more Black Americans killed by police in recent years. As of 2018, Black people only make up 13% of the United States population, yet somehow comprise 31% of all people killed by the police. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement began in protest of these heinous acts of injustice towards the Black community in the United States.
BLM found its way into the NFL through the likes of Eagles Defensive End (and former Seattle Seahawk) Michael Bennett – and most notably by Colin Kaepernick, former Quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.
When Kaepernick refused to participate in the national anthem in 2016, he “changed the game” so that BLM and the NFL would never be seen as separate again. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he stated.
Kaepernick has since been blackballed by the industry, and is no longer a member of any NFL team, despite his high promise as an athlete. However, through his peaceful demonstrations, Kaepernick has contributed to so much more than just football and still remains a household name.
“A lot of the times, the criticism revolving around nonviolent protests carries the same kind of tone and fear as if the protests were violent.”
-Jalayna Carter, Solid Ground Digital Media Specialist & POC Caucus Member
Like other sporting events, football games in the United States have been used as a neutralizer in the ever-so-polarizing contemporary sociopolitical culture. That is one of the reasons why so many people had an adverse reaction to Kaepernick sitting out of the national anthem; it was based on the principle that sports and politics should not mix.
However, what these people selfishly fail to realize is that Black Americans cannot separate institutionalized racism from any facet of their personal lives, and as a society we cannot continue to ignore the suffering and grief of a minority for the comfort of the majority.
Here at Solid Ground, our pre-Super Bowl conversation, hosted by our People of Color (POC) caucus, deconstructed Kaepernick’s and other BLM supporters’ actions and impacts.
When a man like Kaepernick sees the injustice his community is facing and uses his platform to raise awareness, his character and actions are called into question in an attempt to discredit him. When the BLM movement has taken peacefully to the streets and the steps of courthouses after Black children and parents die unfairly at the hands of police, they are called rioters and looters.
“A lot of the times, the criticism revolving around nonviolent protests carries the same kind of tone and fear as if the protests were violent,” says Jalayna Carter, Solid Ground Digital Media Specialist and POC Caucus Member.
It’s clear that right-wing critics who have deemed the BLM movement as violent and racist in the name of “all lives matter” do not only have problems with how the movement is protesting, but what it is protesting. Sadly, it seems that some Americans have gotten too comfortable with the fact that Black Americans have to try harder to access the same resources and are continuously disproportionately affected by police violence and interactions.
At Solid Ground, we will never be comfortable with institutionalized racism, or racism of any kind, and that is why we continue to fight its links to poverty.