(This diary is courtesy of Mr. wd, who provided all the info and links. U of N is his alma mater: “♫There is no place like Nebraska…tr la la…♪♪”)
During a game on September 25 with Northwestern in Evanston, IL, senior linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, freshmen Mohamed Barry and DaiShon Neal dropped to one knee as the Star Spangled Banner played to protest police brutality and racial injustice. Rose-Ivey said the idea was prompted by San Francisco 49er Colin Kapaernick’s refusal to honor the song any longer. In Lincoln the players are still in the locker room when the song is sung, so this was the first opportunity for the three to kneel post-Kapaernick.
The backlash was swift, furious, and hideous. In his own words:
“…what we didn’t expect, was the enormous amount of hateful, racially motivated comments we received from friends, peers, fans, members of the media and others about the message of protests.
I have still been referred to on Facebook and Twitter as a clueless confused n—er, by former high school classmates, friends peers and even Husker fans. Some believe DaiShon (Neal), Mohamed (Barry) and myself should be kicked off the team or suspended, while some said we deserved to be lynched or shot just like the other black people that have died recently. Another believed that since we didn’t want to stand for the anthem we should be hung before the anthem for the next game.
These are actual statements we received from fans.
People assume this is just internet talk, but I can tell you from my own experience, at this very institution, and visiting other college campuses within he past few years that racism is still a problem that must be addressed. I can’t tell you the numerous amount of times I’ve heard the n-word being shouted to my teammates and I by opposing fans behind our bench.
“I believe in the promise of America that tells me all men are created equal and have the right of liberty, justice and equality,” Rose-Ivey said. “But, unfortunately, America has not always lived up to those ideals. So in the words of James Baldwin, ‘I love America more than any other country in the world, and exactly for this reason I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.‘”
Here’s the longer version; if it he doesn’t choke you up, I’ll be surprised.
And what was Gov Pete Rickey’s reaction? He called it disgraceful and disrespectful, of course.
“Generations of men and women have died to give them that right to protest,” the governor said. “I think the way they chose to protest was disgraceful and disrespectful.”
Goddam, I get sick of that meme: “They died for your freedom of speech” horseshit. Especially now, when speech has been criminalized, and thoughts/writing can be prosecuted as crimes as well. Jeebus.
Coach Mike Riley was quite philosophical about their protest at a press conference afterward. It’s phrased a bit awkwardly, but his message is worthy.
“Riley spoke briefly about the three players who kneeled during the national anthem on Saturday. His main message within the locker room is respect, he said. “There are 140 guys in that locker room. We’ve all grown up different. So we start out, the very first word I use at the start of each year is respect. Because we have guys from all kinds of background, all parts of the country, we have a nice, and I love it, a melting pot. And you have a bunch of kids in college, where they are in college. I even remember, you gain a whole new awareness of the world in college. And you start to form opinions of who you are for the rest of your life. Which is why it’s special for us to be with these guys through this part of their life. What you try to do is appreciate and respect the differences right in this room and basically when you are a member of a team, you don’t let those differences affect what you’re trying to do as a football team. And that’s a big chore, but it’s a reality for the rest of their life.”
On a past thread here at the Café, a commenter lamented the recent trend of colleges being too politically correct, and provided this link to ‘UNL students restricted by new ‘respect’ policy’ mocking (at a minimum) the new chancellor of UN at Lincoln saying almost exactly the same thing.
Now whether it’s all aspirational or not, I will say that in our local schools there are all sorts of ‘zero tolerance for x or y’, but enforcing them always depends on who’s doin’ the doin’, yanno? Jocks were never disciplined, nor were the chirren of board members; maybe it’s changed now. And I like the idea of respect and inclusiveness, unless behaviors actually do threaten the safety of other community members.
Other pro sports players have done similarly; on opening day, Kansas city cornerback Marcus Peters raised his arm in a power-salute during the odious anthem; later four Miami Dolphins did the same. Cheerleaders at Howard University did as well, and good on them, some WNBA players, high school players and fans here and there…it all seems to be spreading. One lone Denver Bronco did as well, but I haven’t heard feedback on his gesture, have you?
But won’t it be even more heartening when players’ white and otherly-hued counterparts begin to drop a knee with their brothers and sisters of color? Or that some black players don’t skirt the issue by linking arms instead?
Michael Rose-Ivey Retweeted 5 hrs ago: (click for larger)