Got your six: Anti-injustice is not anti-flag
By Aaron Simmons
I am proud to be American. I have an immense amount of gratitude toward any woman or man brave enough to leave their family and friends to protect and defend my freedoms. In the nature of full disclosure, it is something I don’t know I could do if called upon.
I thought I should express these statements as a precursor to what I am going to say later, because to some of you, what I’m going to say could be spun as anti-flag or anti-military, which you now know is far from the truth.
Surviving on the front lines and surviving a friendship or relationship requires incredibly different tactical skills, but mentally, it all boils down to one thing: trust. You must trust your partner to have your back when push comes to shove. You must trust your partner when they say they’re taking care of a problem. You must trust your partner to get you through the hard times away from peak action.
The same ideal of trust goes for athletics as well. A quarterback must trust his linemen to protect him, and coaches must trust their players to represent their team with integrity on and off the field.
When I opened my phone Sunday to see a montage of players, coaches and front office personnel from around the NFL kneeling, sitting and locking arms during our national anthem, I was not upset. I did not think their motive was to one-up our flag. I never once heard anyone say anything bad about the military in their post-game interviews.
This is what I did see.
I saw grown men visibly seething after being called “SOBs” earlier in the week by their commander-in-chief. I saw team owners who contributed significant campaign funds to the oval office occupant step into the public eye to show they won’t stand for this injustice. I saw multiple white hands on the shoulders of a black man—letting them know they had his back, letting them know they had his six through this perilous time for minorities in our country.
Many people had a problem with the Black Lives Matter movement recently, citing they could accomplish more and be taken seriously if they didn’t provoke violence. Yet, here we are, in the midst of an extremely peaceful and public protest with black athletes at the forefront, and the same people will not give them the time of day.
This issue is much bigger than the flag. It is much bigger than the military. Those in power in our country are fostering an environment that deems it acceptable to attack African Americans with a voice or a message.
The only way to fight the power is to stand up, or in this case, kneel down.