Recently we saw Jurrell Casey, a defensive end for the Tennessee Titans, adamantly expressing he’d continue to boycott the national anthem regardless of the fines set in place by the NFL. A poll stated that the majority of Tennesseans disapproved of his stance or the position he was taking. I would argue that the poll is correct in regards to the majority of White Tennesseans polled, but I fervently feel that it does not represent, reflect, or express the feeling of African Americans or people of color residing in Tennessee.
If you were to break down the poll by race you would see a significant difference in how it is perceived and interpreted. Contrary to the poll leading its viewers to believe that most Tennesseans feel professional athletes’ stance against standing during the national anthem is unwarranted and disrespectful, having no place in the sport arena—a segment of the people feel trivialized and marginalized that feel just like Casey. They see him as a heralded hero and civic crusader. It basically depends upon what side of the spectrum you relate to, or your experienced reality.
It is not hard to understand the big divide, especially as to how Whites see the situation. Polls state that the majority of White Tennesseans feel Confederate monuments and vestiges of the Confederacy should continued to remain in public venues. This is not taking into account the pain, hurt, and lack of respect these vestiges may present to African Americans. Make no mistake, the bust of Nathan Belford Forrest (first Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan) in Tennessee’s capital building represents and epitomizes ‘White Supremacy’ and continues to support a racial divide among the citizens of this state.
Many African Americans and spiritually devout people find it extremely ironic that Tennessee is often considered a part of the Bible belt when it harbors such hypocrisy by devaluing the feelings of historically ravished and dehumanized African Americans. Slavery was real and the systemic vestiges of its brutal practices are still prevalent in the institutions and bureaucracies making up our nation.
I guess it is understandable that we have Whites who are so privileged and entitled that they don’t know or even care about the suffering and indignities of those who don’t look like them. Refusing to stand for the national anthem is not a sign of disrespect for the national flag or those who served our country in the armed forces.
It is an outcry concerning the vast iniquities forced upon people of color by our law enforcement agencies.
It is a peaceful way to advocate for change against gross and bias racial injustices by institutions so prevalent in our country.
Apparently some Whites feel they are being disrespected when everyone doesn’t stand for the national anthem. But those protesting are standing up for the real pain and suffering of African Americans and people of color taking place daily. They aren’t trying to provoke condemnation; they are advocating for reform and change. Those who surreptitiously or intentionally oppress others are insensitive to the cries of woe from people in pain and suffering. These people may feel violated and inconvenienced when they come to watch a sporting event and then see such a demonstration. But these players resent being subjected to and reminded of the pain and suffering of their counterparts.
We know for so many it is not about disrespecting the flag but reminding the country of the ugly realities that still exist. All some selfish attendees want is a temporary escape or fleeting time of enjoyment, but when they leave the sporting event their ‘normal’ lives will not be subjected to the nightmare of injustices still ringing out like an explosion to those marginalized and victimized. These people cannot be inconvenienced with the suffering of others, especially minorities. And for those who claim that sporting or entertainment venues are inappropriate places to bring attention to human indignities, let the ice melt from their apparently selfish hearts. Human suffering shouldn’t have to wait to be heard.
I, along with other African Americans, cannot fully express our love and admiration for Jurrell Casey who is willing to be discredited, vilified and dehumanized for standing up for the African community and people who don’t have a voice. Casey gets it and is willing to pay the price using his Constitutional right to demonstrate. He is not a rebel or maverick but represents the face of dignity, righteousness, and truth. He makes the African American community proud, and I can only wish and hope that more African American athletes and their supporters continue to come forth and show us what real community commitment looks like.
We love you Jurrell for standing up for your convictions. When you put love for justice and equality for your community before money and fame, it speaks volumes. Jurrell Casey, like Colin Kaepernick and other followers, are reminders that true legitimate heroes do exist.