Black highschool football players across America are taking a knee during the traditional playing of the National Anthem before each game. They’re emulating their heroes in the National Football League who have been refusing to stand during the anthem to protest violence against people of color in America. Started by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the act of taking a knee during the anthem is spreading like wildfire throughout the league, joined by superstars like Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall and Dolphins running back Arian Foster.
Unfortunately, like their idols in the NFL, these kids have been subjected to racist threats and attacks. The entire Beaumont Bulls team of Beaumont, Texas, took a knee while the anthem played during Saturday’s game – and the parents of white children reacted appallingly. One player’s mother, April Parkerson, said “our children are receiving death threats from people saying things like hang those monkeys, they should’ve died on 9/11, and they’re going to kill each other anyway.”
One highschooler in Brunswick, Ohio, took a knee after hearing his comments joke about “n*ggers* in the locker room. His teammates responded by calling him the slur to his face and he began receiving lynching threats. “I thought moving to a community like Brunswick, we would be safe … Keep away from gun violence, then you have to come out here and deal with racial things” mourned his father.
NY Post contributor Shaun King draws parallels between the white response to six-year-old Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend a white school – and who needed the National Guard to protect her from the rabidly furious white parents.
“Protesters consistently showed up to yell and scream obscenities at the little girl. She began praying every day as armed security escorted her through the hateful mob. One woman threatened to poison Ruby — forcing the child to only eat and drink food she bought from home. Another woman brought a black baby doll in a coffin to the protests. Her father lost his job. Her family was banned from the local grocery store. Her grandparents were kicked off of the land where they were sharecroppers.”
It just goes to show that fifty years after the Civil Rights Act, any act of defiance from a black person in the United States is still met with threats and open hatred, exposing that the racism that has framed our nation’s history is still alive and well.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.