WASHINGTON: I served for a little over 27yrs active duty (Aug ’74 – Jan ’02). I am also Black. I have personally encountered Colored v. White water fountains as a child growing up in New Orleans. While on active duty, I’ve accompanied a flag-draped coffin from Europe back to the United States. I have also participated in a burial at sea ceremony.
The above info, while it may be enlightening to the reader, does not add credibility to what I am about to say:
When you kneel during the National Anthem, you are disrespecting the flag of the United States: Period.
New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees made outrage headlines when he was asked about players kneeling protests against police brutality. Brees respond to that outrage, saying:
“I love and respect my teammates, and I stand right there with them in regard to fighting for racial equality and justice,” Brees said. “I also stand with my grandfathers, who risked their lives for this country, and countless other military men and women who do it on a daily basis.”
Brees has his defenders
Drew wasn’t talking about the current protest, the riots or really anything besides HIS feelings on kneeling during the National Anthem.He even explained what they were, the basis and that he actually stands with us. Do we have to entirely agree with him, no. https://t.co/KEkzqYj8HR
— Marcus Davenport (@MarcusJD84) June 3, 2020
Brees’ remarks on the flag also drew a sharp rebuke on social media across the sports landscape
When asked during a Yahoo interview, Brees reiterated his stance that he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America”. Thus attracting social media backlash Wednesday. Which included a potential divide in his locker room, where players such as Malcolm Jenkins and Demario Davis are among the leaders of the players’ coalition seeking social justice and racial equality.
As a result, Brees tweeted:
I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know… https://t.co/Jg36d0Ad0l
— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) June 4, 2020
Brees has his supporters on social media as well:
Imagine cancelling a man who rebuilt New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, helped advance cancer reserach & donated $5 million to help those impacted by COVID-19
All because he dared to support our country & our troops.#DrewBrees
— Ashley StClair 🇺🇸 (@stclairashley) June 4, 2020
It may be a good time to remind everyone jumping on the Bash Brees Bandwagon that Brees and his wife, Brittany, have been heavily involved in charitable efforts throughout his 19-year NFL career. They helped to rebuild New Orleans after Katrina. More recently making donation of $5 million to help Louisiana during the coronavirus pandemic.
What it is all about
I know that many are maintaining that Colin Kaepernick said it has nothing to do with the flag; it’s all about protesting police brutality. On the surface, the casual reader/listener may go along with that. But that argument falls flat because the action of kneeling only happens when the National Anthem is played.
Just because you “SAY” it has nothing to do with the flag… does not negate the significance of the action of kneeling while the anthem is played.
Again, because the action of kneeling always coincides with the playing of the National Anthem underscores the fact that it’s about the flag and what it represents.
Anyone who doesn’t think it’s about the flag is oblivious to the fact that the flag (i.e.: our “national colors”) are paraded/presented on the field by the Color Guard at each game.
Think about what would happen if someone chose to remain seated, or kneels… while:
- the bride enters the chapel, or
- when the judge enters the courtroom, or
- a casket is being wheeled out of the church at a funeral, or
- the commanding officer enters a space where military personnel are present.
The action of standing is a sign of respect, plain and simple. It has nothing to do with whether or not you like what you’re witnessing. Societal ills. Or if you want to hijack the event to “make a statement” about societal ills.
If you choose to do so (i.e.: not stand at the ceremonially appropriate time), you’re disrespecting the event… and you undermine, or discredit, the cause for which you say you’re representing.
As you no doubt know, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution covers more than one protection. It also guarantees our rights, as Americans, to freedom of
Although we are afforded all of these rights, we must exercise discretion when we choose to use them. If individuals want to protest police brutality, it is their Constitutional right. No one can arbitrarily take it away.
However, when we assert our perceived rights at a time and place that is inappropriate, the cause we are defending is tarnished in the process.
Lead Image: By Ian Ransley – Flickr: Drew Brees, Jan. 7th, 2010, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18798997