Tennis legend Serena Williams just chose to throw her hat in the ring with the likes of former San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid. Serena herself, along with her sister Venus Williams, is an American professional tennis player. She was ranked number one in the world in singles on eight separate occasions between 2002 and 2017 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
In a Friday evening match where Serena was playing Venus, Kaepernick and Reid were in the crowd watching the match. Afterward, Serena gave a shout-out to Kaepernick and Reid praising the duo in a news conference, stating – “I think every athlete, every human, and definitely every African American should be completely grateful and honored how Colin and Eric are doing so much more for the greater good, so to say.
They really use their platform in ways that is really unfathomable. I feel like they obviously have great respect from a lot of their peers, especially other athletes, people that really are looking for social change.”
Kaepernick and Reid, two former San Francisco 49ers now out of the league, were each given huge ovations when they were introduced and shown on the big screen during the match between Serena and Venus Williams at the US Open on Friday night. Serena Williams said she was focused on the match and did not notice the pair in the stands. Reid raised his fist and Kaepernick smiled for the fans.
— The Hill (@thehill) September 1, 2018
Serena said she was grateful for the stand they took that has seen both players take on the NFL. An arbitrator is sending Kaepernick’s grievance with the NFL to trial, denying the league’s request to throw out the quarterback’s claims that owners conspired to keep him out of the league because of his protests of social injustice. A similar grievance is still pending by unsigned safety Eric Reid, who played with Kaepernick in San Francisco and joined in the protests.
I know today will motivate Lani to be great! She couldn’t contain her excitement watching her favorite players @serenawilliams and @Venuseswilliams. Thanks Serena for surprising her after the match! pic.twitter.com/0gwoOlaoVI
— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) September 1, 2018
Kaepernick began a wave of protests by NFL players two seasons ago, kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality. The protests have grown into one of the most polarizing issues in sports, with President Donald Trump loudly urging the league to suspend or fire players who demonstrate during the anthem.”
It is important to note that Serena and Venus are minority owners of the Miami Dolphins, as well. And yet somehow in ways that are truly unfathomable to many Americans, Serena believes that Kaepernick choosing to sit and later kneel while he played with the San Francisco 49ers during the national anthem is somehow standing up for racial injustice and inequality.
I wonder what the Little Rock Nine would say when the National Guard had to remove them for their own safety from Central High School in 1957 after attempting to attend a formerly segregated school? Or those that marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965? Known as “Bloody Sunday” 600 peaceful demonstrators refused to stand down and were viciously beaten and teargassed by police and dozens of protestors were hospitalized.
Truly standing up for injustice is a lot deeper than simply “taking a knee” choosing to dishonor the real MEN who fought for America and DIED so these boys could choose to “take a knee” in complete contempt of everything that allows them to achieve the levels of success that they have.
One does not get or earn respect by showing disrespect to others. Regardless of their intent, the perception of disrespect is seen by many members both past and present of the military, as well as many Americans. Perception matters and disrespecting America the way they have has inflamed racial tensions in many ways sending racial relations back generations, rather than moving towards any hope of racial harmony.
Kaepernick, then with the San Francisco 49ers, protested by sitting, and later kneeling, during the national anthem. Teammate Reid joined him, as did other NFL players around the league in a move that has drawn significant criticism from President Trump and from police.
Kaepernick infuriated then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s back in 2016 when he began kneeling during the national anthem at games.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick explained to NFL Media back in August 2016. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Both players have filed a grievance against the NFL, claiming the league has colluded to not sign them because of their protests. An arbitrator this week rejected an NFL motion to dismiss Kaepernick’s grievance.
“In a major blow to the NFL, Colin Kaepernick achieved a preliminary but important win in his case accusing the league of colluding to keep him off the field due to player protests during the national anthem that he instigated.” A king among us. #ImWithKap https://t.co/seXDVFdSMS
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) August 31, 2018
Studies have shown there is racial stereotyping even among minorities and significant issues that need to be addressed such as mandatory minimum sentencing laws among others. Senator Rand Paul (KY-R) stood on the Senate floor introducing legislation and attempting to raise awareness for this issue. This protest does NOTHING to address the real and underlying issues.
Instead, it fans the flames of racial tensions and even separating like-minded people.
Not one single person, behavior, or law has been changed by professional athletes refusing to stand for the national anthem. What it has done is led to a mass exodus of former NFL fans choosing to turn off their television during game time and refusing to attend games or purchase season tickets.
Perhaps the next sport to suffer will be professional tennis now that Serena Williams has chosen to throw her hat into the ring.
As a professional athlete in America, these individuals have achieved a great deal. Why on earth would you show such utter contempt towards the country that made that success possible? It is a literal slap in the face to people who risk their lives for this country or have lost loved ones doing so. There are families that receive a folded flag as thank you for their family member’s service, rather than the person they love most back among them.
There are men and women who have seen friends, brothers and sisters in arms, die at the hands of the enemy and that national anthem means something to them. It is more than “just a song.” It is symbolic of all they have sacrificed.
There is literally no measurable successful outcome to such a protest. It is simply a means to further divide, creating deeper racial tensions and disparity in a nation that was headed towards healing but has since hit reverse, choosing to go backward instead. All because some people felt disrespect towards one group, would beget respect towards their own.