On Monday night, Browns TE Seth DeValve kneeled alongside other Browns players to become the first white person to kneel in solidarity with black teammates during nation anthem in a protest to the racial inequalities and police brutality in America.
Chair of the Ole Miss African American Studies Program, Dr. Charles Ross saw the gesture as a nice step in the right direction.
“I think its absolutely beneficial,” Dr. Ross said. “I think one of the things that has been articulated by (Michael) Bennett is that it would be great if white players joined the protest too so its not simply looked upon as black players having an issue with the overall race climate in America.”
“You’d like to see this maybe go a step further and figure out someway in which Colin Kaepernick will be offered and opportunity to play in the National Football league,” Dr. Ross continued, “because what he did last year….. he wasn’t on the wrong side of this issue. He was on the right side of this issue.”
In an interview with Cleveland.com, DeValve explained his reasoning for joining the protest.
“The United States is the greatest country in the world,” DeValve said. “It is because it provides opportunities to its citizens that no other country does. The issue is that it doesn’t provide equal opportunity to everybody. And I wanted to support my African-American teammates today who wanted to take a knee. We wanted to draw attention to the fact that there’s things in this country that still need to change.”
“I think its good (That DeValve kneeled) because it shows that white people are at least considering what black people are saying and vice versa,” Ole Miss senior David Biggs said.
Colin Kaepernick began a national uproar last year when he began to kneel for the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial oppression following the tragic deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling by police officers.
“I think a person has his rights and his privileges,” Ole Miss staff member Richard Brown said. “You take that away and you go back to dictatorship and slavery.
“I think its great to have this conversation,” David Biggs said. “When you have conversation I think the best ideas win.”
While people are less likely to argue Kaepernick’s cause for protesting, people often argue that his protest itself is disrespectful to the American flag.
Ex-Mississippi state narcotics agent and Professor of Legal Studies Stephen Mallory shared a similar ideology.
“He certainly has the right to protest,” Mallory said. “There’s things wrong. I just don’t know if that’s the appropriate way to change it. The most effective way to change this country is to vote.”
“A lot of people have fought and died under that flag to give us the freedom to do just what hes doing.” Mallory said. “Too many people have given too much. That’s our flag. That’s our anthem. That’s everybody’s flag that lives in this country. The national anthem doesn’t stand for racism. It doesn’t stand for evil. It stands for good. They need to speak out against Nazis and neo-Nazi and white supremacist.”
Dr. Charles Ross offered an opinion more favorable to Kaepernick’s protest.
“The national anthem in the country has a tradition in which individuals are supposed to take their hats off and place their right hands over their hearts,” Dr. Ross said. “To lift the flag and pay homage to the history of the United States and the wars that its been in and its ability to become the kind of nation that it is. Supposedly all of that encompasses that citizens are kind of on equal footing within that history in context. Of course that’s not the way America has functioned in its history.”
“We are a country of diversity,” Dr. Ross said. “We are a county of difference and maybe our traditions can be tweaked along those same lines. They’re kneeling as a way to facilitate a uniqueness that their experience is different as an African American.”
New York Daily News