During a video interview with Yahoo, Brees was asked what he thought about players kneeling during the national anthem when the NFL season starts. He responded: “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.” Not only did his response come across as incredibly tone-deaf considering the current climate, it caught the attention of James, who has been a leading voice among athletes in the struggle for equality and the fight to end police brutality in the United States.
LeBron retweeted the clip, adding: “WOW MAN!! 🤦🏾♂️. Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of 🇺🇸 and our soldiers (men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those men who fought as well for this country. I asked him question about it and thank him all the time for his commitement (sic). He never found Kap peaceful protest offensive because he and I both know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong! God bless you.”
WOW MAN!! 🤦🏾♂️. Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of 🇺🇸 and our soldiers(men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those https://t.co/pvUWPmh4s8
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 3, 2020
Brees’ comment is symptomatic of the misplaced energy of many white Americans, who feel personally attacked whenever a person of color uses his or her platform to protest against social injustice. It’s a glaring example of how Colin Kaepernick’s protest has been woefully misunderstood and how the narrative has been hijacked.
Protesting police brutality is not anti-America — police brutality should not be tolerated at all, period. If anything, taking the knee is a peaceful attempt to make America (and the world) a better place. But by misplacing the significance of NFL players kneeling in solidarity with BIPOCs and rather transferring it to a discussion about the American flag and the military, the spotlight is being taken off the actual issue at hand — that people of color are far more likely to be killed by the police in America than white people are.
For the most part, James’ tweet was well-received on Twitter, with several veterans coming out in support of the NBA player. There is a lot of work to be done, particularly by those enjoying the systemic privilege. James’ tweet is an example of that privilege being checked. Long may that continue.