On Monday, several members of the Giants chose to kneel during the National Anthem prior to their preseason scrimmage against the Athletics in protest of police brutality, the systemic racism in our country, and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The official MLB twitter account tweeted out a short clip showing players kneeling, with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter
Earlier that day, the league also shared a few quotes from Dodgers pitcher and former MVP, Clayton Kershaw, in which he shares his personal experience in educating himself on the issues, and shares his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
These two tweets both resulted in significant backlash against the league. Countless twitter users shared thoughts about the actions, including sentiments that kneeling during the National Anthem is disrespectful to the country and military, as well as wishes that sports and politics remain separate. The MLB responded to a few of these sentiments below, in an effort to double down in terms of both supporting their players, and advocating for what is right.
These tweets resulted in even further controversy. On Tuesday morning, I woke up to a text from a friend asking why #BoycottMLB was trending on Twitter. After an initial panic that something disastrous had happened overnight, I went to the hashtag and found that it was simply about the above tweets. This was deeply disheartening to see.
These should not be controversial statements. This was simply a league advocating for basic human rights. However, the fact that there was enough controversy for such a hashtag to be trending highlights the very problems which are being protested. These people are part of the problem. They care more about a flag and song than human rights. They wish to strip athletes of their identity and see them as nothing more than baseball playing machines. All people have a responsibility to do what they can to help affect positive change in our world, whether that is protesting, passing legislation, donating, or simply educating themselves on the issues. If teams or members of teams feel that they need to kneel during the anthem or share their thoughts as Kershaw did, they should not only be allowed to, but be commended for it. They have a platform that most do not that allows them to have their message heard across the country.
As much as these should not be political issues, as MLB said they are not, it is important to remember that these issues have been politicized. These issues are only going to be solved politically. Police brutality and racial profiling is not going to stop because police officers have a change of heart. They will not be fixed until strict, appropriate, and clear legislation is passed to make a difference, which is inherently political. For these reasons, I implore you reading this to do whatever you can to help the movement. That might mean going to local protests to show support (albeit doing it safely and smartly). That might mean donating to the cause and organizations such as bail funds or the ACLU. That might mean contacting your local senators, governors, or other politicians to express how you feel about these issues. That might mean speaking to others who may oppose the movement, like the twitter users to which MLB responded, about why they oppose it and why they may want to change their mind. It might mean educating yourself on the issues of police brutality or systemic racism. All of us can do more, and all of us should do more, until these protests are no longer necessary, because they have been successful.
Featured image: Twitter/@sfgiants