We should have seen this coming. No really, we should have. Protest for police brutality have come to every sport over the past few years, except for baseball. But we are already seeing protest in pre-season games and on a roster with many young, outspoken, intelligent, Black players like the Mariners have, it was bound to happen.
Now let’s get this out of the way right now: you do have a right to not like the method of protest performed by these players. Nobody is telling you that you have to like it. But let’s be absolutely clear about this: YOU HAVE TO RESPECT IT. And if you can’t do that, then fuck off.
How dare you demand professional athletes to sacrifice their bodies, minds, mental health, and not to mention their families health in the midst of a global pandemic purely for your entertainment and demand they stay silent. Athletes are humans. They have emotion. They feel things. And just because they’re professional athletes doesn’t mean they lose their first amendment rights to peacefully protest.
You can spew your “they’re disrespecting the flag” bullshit all you want. Go ahead and tell your social media followers that you’re boycotting the Mariners. Nobody is going to try and stop you. The team and the community just got stronger and better now that you’re gone. Nobody will miss you, least of all the players whose cause is just. If you’re too stupid to understand that their protest isn’t about the flag or the troops, there is no helping you. Your ignorance has become your choice and it’s your right to be as misinformed as you choose.
So dislike the protest all you want. I don’t care. But don’t ignore this simple truth: the flag represents a promise of freedom and a better life, but for millions of people, mostly those people of color, that promise has been a lie. We have all failed to deliver on the promise of freedom to all Americans. We can do better. We must do better. And if kneeling or raising their hands during the national anthem keeps these injustices front of mind for even a fraction of a moment, they are absolutely succeeding in their goal.
Jackie Robinson once said, ” There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free”. Yet we are still fighting to ensure that the American Dream, the American Promise, is given to all, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation. We have a long way to go. So either hop on board or get the hell out of the way. And if you aren’t willing to do either, then allow me say, in the most respectful way possible, “go fuck yourself.”