Earlier this week, the Arizona Cardinals’ star quarterback indicated that he will take a knee during the national anthem when the NFL season starts. Several of my friends have indicated that as a result of Kyler Murray’s announcement, they will no longer follow our team. I am compelled to respond:

You have made Colin Kaepernick’s point—and done so eloquently. You have misrepresented his message and intent. Kaepernick has clearly and consistently shown his respect and appreciation for the United States, its flag, the armed forces, etc. He is protesting injustice in America, not desecrating a national symbol. He knelt to call attention to the structural racism in our society that treats African Americans, particularly young black men, differently than whites. Kaepernick didn’t turn his back on the flag or walk out during the anthem. If we can’t accept someone who respectfully kneels in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters who suffer most from the consequences of racism and injustice, what will it take for us to acknowledge their pain?

Over the past six weeks, we have seen African Americans publicly threatened while birdwatching, shot and killed while jogging down the street, executed while sleeping in their own beds, and strangled for passing a counterfeit bill which the person may not have even known was fake. None of these things would have happened to you or me in similar circumstances. People who denounce a black athlete for kneeling peacefully in solidarity with those experiencing injustice and oppression should not remain silent when a white man uses his knee to kill a black man.

Kaepernick sacrificed his career to shine a spotlight on the racism and injustice that have been baked into our social structures and systems. And now Murray is courageously taking his place alongside Kaepernick and other athletes—white and black—to demand an end to discrimination. They are calling for equal justice under the law.

I’m thrilled that people across the nation are re-examining their own words and actions (I certainly am), talking with others, and blogging about what they are learning about their own complicity in white supremacy. I pray that our society will not return to where we were two months ago; I do think that train has left the station. Given what many other athletes are saying now, you may not be watching football again if you really boycott all the teams with players who kneel during the anthem. I urge you to rethink your position on Kyler Murray and the kneeling protests; you risk finding yourself on the wrong side of history….

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