Much of Black America has been steadfast since the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell struck a conciliatory tone during the current Black Lives Matter movement.
We want Colin Kaepernick to have his job back as an NFL quarterback. Period.
Instead, the NFL has been only happy to provide us with empty gestures. The latest came when word got out that the NFL plans to play the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” before the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” during opening week of the regular season in September.
So that means when the Texans take on the Kansas City Chiefs to officially kic koff the season, we will all witness another empty gesture gone all wrong by the NFL. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is a song that is sacred to the our community and never meant to be part of any dog and pony show.
Civil rights leaders and activists have demanded real and tangible change from the NFL, like more than three Black coaches and two Black general managers in a league that is over 70% African American.
Instead of the assault on our intelligence with the apology from the commissioner and his admission that the league was wrong to interfere with the peaceful social protest of its players, a real start would be one of the 32 teams having the guts to sign Kaepernick.
He has paid the price for spearheading this awakening when he was blackballed out of the league a few years ago for daring to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem to give attention to the senseless killing of Black people at the hands of police officers.
Yet, all the NFL is offering is another symbolic gesture, and this one is just the most insulting of all. It’s one thing for Black National Anthem to be played before the start of HBCU games. Most in those stands understand and feel the power of the words James Weldon Johnson first wrote as a poem in the late 1890s.
Most of the white fans who pack NFL stadiums probably won’t understand the meaning and power of those words:
“…Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on ‘til victory is won…”
This song that means so much to the African American community is supposed to now be the opening act for a song that was written by a slave owner, whose lyrics are saturated with racism?
You have to wonder where was Jay-Z, who is supposed to be the well-paid voice of reason to the overwhelming white, male and privileged NFL owners fraternity when this decision was made by Goodell with the consent of his bosses.
Let’s just hope between now and the start of the season that a better decision is made and a song that is so sacred to the African American community is not another empty gesture offered up the NFL.