Drew Brees’s tone-deaf feedback on protests are each ignorant and harmful | Sport

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s disturbing homicide by the hands of 4 Minneapolis law enforcement officials that has ignited the world each actually and figuratively, the NFL has engaged in a refreshing, new tone: unification. Gamers of all pores and skin colours have joined marches and donated hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to organizations preventing the more and more clear atrocities of inequality in America. The black gamers, who comprise greater than 70% of the league’s workforce, have shared their private experiences encountering systemic racism, whereas their white counterparts have listened and publicly lent their assist as allies. 

The league and most of its groups have launched statements or discovered different methods to publicly assist Black Lives Matter. Some have been clunkier than others (hey, Washington) however the sentiment of unity and intolerance for racism has been omnipresent. 4 years after Colin Kaepernick eloquently defined why he couldn’t honor an America the place blacks have been unjustly murdered by cops, when Anquan Boldin, Richard Sherman and so many others echoed his sentiments, many of the NFL zeitgeist appears to lastly perceive. 

That’s, till New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees entered the fray. Requested by Yahoo Finance’s Daniel Roberts how he would really feel about gamers kneeling through the nationwide anthem this season in protest of police violence – a robust chance given the present local weather – Brees replied: “I’ll by no means agree with anyone disrespecting the flag.” 

Oh Drew, how is it doable for somebody so well-spoken and charitable to show such ignorance at this second in historical past? How can your eyes be so tightly shut?

Within the Yahoo interview, Brees defined that for him the American flag symbolizes his two grandfathers who fought in World Struggle II. That’s each valiant and truthful. Nobody is asking Brees to vary his perspective of America or suppose completely different ideas because the anthem performs. However a special man, say Brees’s black former teammate Marques Colston, may additionally consider veterans, like his father who fought for this nation solely to face racism and discrimination upon returning house. Even so, certain, go forward and honor your grandfathers. Nobody is asking Brees to do in any other case. 

After a firestorm of anger from teammates, the broader NFL neighborhood and a minimum of LeBron James, Brees issued a prolonged assertion of apology on Thursday morning wherein he offered himself as an ally to the black neighborhood. Besides nowhere in his apology did he acknowledge why his feedback about this type of protest have been so hurtful. He nonetheless isn’t publicly keen to confess that the flag gives completely different meanings to completely different folks. That kneeling through the anthem is a reputable extra of protest. 

How can Brees be so oblivious to the second to carry on the outdated notion that the flag ought to solely signify the navy? How dare Brees inform one other participant how he’s presupposed to react when he sees the flag? How dare he recommend {that a} black man or his white ally not be so overcome with despair and anger when he sees the flag and thinks of an America that murders George Floyd, Armaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and numerous others that he feels no alternative however to protest the anthem. 

Brees supplied the identical unenlightened sentiments in regards to the protests disrespecting the navy three years in the past within the aftermath of Kaepernick’s unique protest. It was not excusable again then both, however a minimum of Brees was in line with the NFL social gathering line, which was rooted within the worry of alienating half of its fanbase. (Translation: Trump supporters.) Nonetheless, trotting out the identical narrative now when the foundation of Kaepernick’s protest is enjoying out, on repeat, earlier than our very eyes and so clearly had nothing to do with the navy, is each ignorant and harmful. When gamers do take a knee this season, which we should always count on, as an alternative of being a frontrunner to coach ignorant followers, Brees has simply given them carte blanche to label the protesters one thing they’re not. This in flip could influence the league’s backside line and encourage homeowners to make unsavory profit-first selections that stifle this newfound coalescing. It’s OK to carry on to a drained false narrative: future Corridor-of-Famer and All-American dad Drew Brees instructed me to!

Brees purporting the notion that the American flag solely represents just one facet of the US is much more disturbing contemplating his distinctive life expertise. Brees works in an NFL locker room surrounded by black males, many with their very own tales of discrimination. (He ought to talk a bit extra with cornerback Malcolm Jenkins.) He additionally lives in New Orleans, a metropolis with a wealthy historical past of police corruption, the place greater than 60% of the inhabitants is black. Brees actually has to make a concerted effort to disregard actuality. He has to shut his thoughts to not perceive why a black American would see the flag right now (and 4 years in the past) and take into consideration a special sort of armed forces.

This previous Tuesday noticed an inspiring two-part Black Lives Matter motion designed to showcase empathy, schooling and motion. In step one, hundreds of thousands of individuals put black squares with the hashtag #TuesdayBlackOut on their social media accounts. Brees participated with the remainder of the world. Straightforward sufficient. The second, a lot more durable half was a deeper dedication to amplifying black voices and black causes, studying in regards to the 13th modification of the US Structure and the mass criminalization of blacks that adopted, letting the black expertise embed into your soul. It seems Brees sat this one out. 

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