The nerve. The same National Football League business that banned a former league quarterback Colin Kaepernick for protesting against police violence and racist oppression is now running commercials that are apparently aimed at making people believe it cares about police violence, and by extension, Black people. Few things could be further from the truth.
The initial goal of the NFL was to ban Kap in order to stop the movement against police violence from growing. The NFL’s latest move is designed to ensure that the movement does not come back by trying to make it appear that it and the people concerned about ending police violence, share the same vision. They/we absolutely do not!
It is undisputed that Kaepernick’s protest was infectious. Kids on little league teams were taking a knee, girls’ volleyball teams were taking a knee, Olympic athletes were taking a knee, White women were taking a knee. Lots of people were taking a principled stance against police violence.
There was even a conference that was organized at the Super Bowl two years ago in Minneapolis called the TAKE A KNEE Conference that called attention to the problem and the accompanying trauma experienced by families who have lost loved ones to police violence.
The conversations about police violence began to multiply as Kap’s protest came on the heels of the Black Lives Matter Movement. So not only did the spreading of the movement need to be stopped at all costs, the league needed to make sure it did not return. So, the business resorted to a tactic as old as oppression itself, it cut off the head, the symbol—Kaepernick —in hopes that the movement would die and the conversations would end.
The head of the business, Chief Marketing Officer Tim Ellis has implied that the commercials are designed to be a conversation starter, but that is not true. The commercials are designed to end conversations about the problem of police violence. And as Ellis said in a recent interview, the commercial is about making the league more appealing to younger fans.
Ultimately, the league turned to the old playbook entitled, “How to Subvert Movements” and realized they needed to appear to embrace the message while at the same time water it down.
The NFL lied about its intentions and the fact that the league had banned Kaepernick without saying it. It turned to its well-paid lackeys, including its Black ones like Stephen (A Clown) Smith and others to tell people that the urine they were spraying was actually rain. And when all else failed after continually shutting the door and making it clear they were not going to hire him, the league, with a straight face, said Kaepernick refused to come in and let us slam the door in the face again, which is finally proof that he does not want to work.
Incidentally, this is not an unfamiliar story in Black America.
Since there are embers of protest still burning, the league pulls out the favorite tricks of the ruling class: replace the defiant Negro with a compliant one and pretend they are saying the same thing. Enter Malcolm Jenkins.
Replace the principled Negro with the unprincipled one and have him undermine the principled one’s message and add some money to the pot to sweeten the deal and confuse the easily duped. Enter Jay Z.
Replace the uncompromising Negro with the compromising one. Enter Anquan Boldin.
Consequently, this campaign appears to give credence to the issue against police violence but that is just another trick. It’s the old if you can’t obliterate the movement, join it and diffuse, dilute and detract it. Get in it and muddy the waters so well that even the folks it was meant to benefit become confused.
And I am not being unfair to any of the folks who were used to dilute and eventually subvert Kap’s message because, at some point, in their dealings with the league, Jay-Z, Jenkins, and Boldin had to be aware that they were being used. They could have exercised their free will and walked away and called out the subterfuge. But they took the deal.
The principled thing would have been for all of them to reject these sham compromises of which Boldin’s may have been worse because he allowed the league to write Kaepernick out of history with this revisionist storytelling.
Cynicism is what best describes the league’s attempt to subvert this issue. It is no surprise that this campaign was dreamed up by its marketing department. And the league didn’t pick Botham Jean’s tragedy by coincidence and neither was Corey Harris’. They both were “good” Black guys that even White people could relate to. It’s only tragic when the good ones are victimized, you see. But police violence is tragic when anyone’s child, relative or spouse is gunned down.
And for good measure, in Botham Jean’s case, they include the infamous hug and the good Christian forgiveness on the part of his younger brother toward his brother’s murderer.
So the ultimate message is, police violence is only bad when it victimizes good Negroes. The Negroes forgive you and the NFL’s “Inspire Change” campaign is needed because let’s face it, they want to inspire change in the Negroes and Negroes only.
And notice the ad does not call for an end to police violence, which is why police federations are not opposed to it.
The medium is indeed the message.
Justice, then peace.
Mel Reeves was the community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder until he passed away on January 6, 2022. He had a long and storied history working at the MSR.
Find more about Reeve’s life and legacy here: spokesman-recorder.com/category/remembering-mel-reeves.