Add “being seen to have an opinion” to the things black people are no longer entitled to do.
The NFL ruling was clear: “We owners don’t want to be reminded of your pain. We want to make money, and these actions are costing us. So now it’ll cost you.”
I know the ratings for televised games have gone down, which irritates advertisers, which costs money. No one wants to have their bottom line impacted.
But let's keep some things in perspective here. The average NFL team is worth $2.5 billion. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell earns $32 million a year, and New England’s own Bob Kraft is worth $6.2 billion. They’re not exactly collecting cans.
What they are doing is perpetuating this country’s history of minimizing and remaining silent about the systemic mistreatment of people of color in general, and black people in particular.
How? By penalizing players who exercise their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble.
Many of those vilifying players for silently protesting are also vehement defenders of the right to bear arms. So, why not trample on the First Amendment when the second is so much more important -- and profitable?
Not to mention the profit associated with the patriotic pomp. The Pentagon has paid the NFL millions for salutes, color guards and anthems. Let that sink in.
Then there’s the anthem itself. Everyone knows the first stanza, but there are three more that are less familiar. “No refuge could save the hireling and slave” was a dig at the Colonial Marines, a battalion of runaway slaves who joined the British forces in exchange for their freedom -- men who had the nerve to confront the concept of white superiority. Kinda makes the “land of the free” part a head-scratcher.
Unarmed black men are seven times more likely to die at the hands of police than white men. Seventy percent of the NFL’s players are black, a fact that increases the likelihood that someone they know will be profiled, stopped, frisked, taken down or taken out.
Just ask Sterling Brown, the Milwaukee Bucks player who was tased by that city’s police department just a few months before the NFL owners issued their edict. Seems it is more important to make money and quench America’s thirst for punishing black men than to allow them the right to acknowledge what has happened to Amadou, Michael, Stephon, Philando, Tamir, Terence, Trayvon, Walter and far too many others. Because that’s just not entertaining.
Andréa Comer is a former journalist and elected official who has worked in the nonprofit arena for more than 20 years. She lives in Hartford.