Not Feeling the NFL and the Black National Anthem

I know I’ve said it once before, but I am still pleasantly amazed at the racial enlightenment that is (still) happening in this country.

‘Black Lives Matter’ murals have been painted in several cities across the country. Peaceful protests are still taking place in cities and small towns. There was even an open dialogue in a small Ohio town days after several armed hillbillies decided to harass the peaceful protesters.

It’s been spilling into the sports world even more so than the last time I wrote about a similar issue.

We all what NASCAR did in abolishing the confederate flag and supporting Bubba Wallace, the sport’s only full-time black driver. We’ve seen statements put out by NASCAR, Major League Soccer, the NBA, NHL and NFL.

Speaking of the NFL, the league’s commissioner/warden/playa hater Roger Goodell, aka “Goodevil”, not only stated that the league will contribute $250 million over the next 10 years for social justice endeavors and said in a bad hostage-like video that “black lives matter”, but he also made an announcement that most fans did not see coming: “Lift Every Voice and Sing” will be played or performed live before every Week 1 NFL game as a way to recognize victims of systematic racism.

For those who don’t know, this song, recognized as the ‘Black National anthem’, was created as a poem by James Weldon Johnson, it was performed for the first time by 500 school children in celebration of President Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12, 1900 in Jacksonville, FL. The poem was set to music by Johnson’s brother, John Rosamond Johnson, and soon adopted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as its official song. 

For all the wrongs the NFL has committed — its bungling of the kneeling during the national anthem, and subsequent blackballing of Colin Kaepernick — at least Goodell and co. are trying to make things right, even if it’s four years after the fact. The league realized that shouldn’t have caved to repeated barbs from an idiotic troll who is currently occupying the White House, and is embarrassed over that.

Teams have taken down statues of racist former owners (former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and George Preston Marshall in Washington) and Washington is looking to change the racist nickname of its team after Native Americans have been pleading for the team to do so the last several decades. Hell, even some teams have been discussing bring back Kaepernick.

For what it’s worth, I appreciate the baby steps the NFL has been willing to take as of late.

That being said, if there is one thing that I annoys the hell out of me, it is a symbolic gesture. And this to me wreaks of such.

While I appreciate what the NFL has been doing, did we as black folks REALLY ask for the Black National Anthem to be played before games? Is that going to get us any closer to breaking down systematic racism or eliminating qualified immunity? Is that going to get us tougher laws that would punish and be cost-prohibitive for bad cops?

Is that going to get us any closer to justice reform? Will this get us closer to economic equality? Same with hiring practices in NFL front offices?

What I need for NFL owners to do is to use their power to induce change for all the aforementioned. Don’t pat me on the back and not provide a service that shows that you do indeed care about folks who look like me. Otherwise this would be nothing more than pandering to a community the NFL has long taken for granted.

Let’s hope the NFL will not fuck this up again…

Categories: NFL

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