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NFL’s Arian Foster On Anthem Protest: “It’s about the message and the people saying it.”


Arian Foster explains his stance on the national anthem protest to reporters after taking the knee.

Miami Dolphins running back Arian Foster has a few choice words about the real reason many Americans hate the National Anthem protest.

Colin Kaepernick’s simple refusal to stand during an NFL pre-game recitation of the racist national anthem at the start of the pre-season three weeks ago, which eventually evolved into taking a knee during the song, has ballooned into a nationwide movement and sparked much debate, backlash and controversy.

Just about everyone has formed an opinion, it seems, and has weighed in, including musicians Trey Songs, J. Cole and Harry Belafonte, former basketball star turned TV host Shaquille O’Neal, and fellow professional football athletes like Brandon Marshall, a linebacker for defending champions the Denver Broncos, who took the knee at the start of Sunday’s game against Superbowl 50 rivals the Carolina Panthers.

Now, we can add another NFL player to the growing list — Miami Dolphin running back Arian Foster who, over the weekend, put his voice into the fold.

Related: Double Standards Towards Patriotism Aren’t Cute, America.

Foster, 30, speaking with the press in the player’s locker room after the Dolphins competed against Seattle Seahawks on the anniversary of 9/11, expressed a very clear and concise reason that many players, sports enthusiasts and folks with absolutely no interest whatsoever in sports hate what they’re seeing — or reading about — during the NFL pre-game.

Foster starts off by stating the significance of the celebrity NFL players enjoy. “The platform that we have can be used to help spread awareness to certain things,” he said, before going on to discuss the backlash Kaepernick and others, including Foster, have faced because of the stance they’re taking.

“It’s about the message and the people who’s saying it. Because if it’s about a need that people are upset about, every Sunday, people of faith take a knee to give thanks to their lord and savior. It’s not about a need. It’s not about the symbology. It’s about the message. They say it’s not the right time to do this. Well, when is the time? It’s never the time in someone else’s eyes because they’ll always feel like it’s good enough, and some people don’t. And, that’s the beautiful thing about this country is that if somebody feel like it’s not good enough, they have their right. And, that’s all we’re doing is exercising that right.”

First, thank you, Mr. Foster, for this.

Second, Foster’s statements echo the exact sentiments expressed in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter From A Birmingham Jail,” a lengthy missive addressed to the thesis of Blacks waiting to protest social injustice that could have easily been penned now in response to the resurgence of this question, as black lives matter continues to challenge racism in our current period. You can read what King had to say about the “right time” to protest here.

Third, he’s right. It’s not about “the needs” or symbolism. It’s never been about either of those. We know this. It’s always been about rejecting the message, the “needs,” of the people protesting.

In many ways, the actions of these football players over the past few weeks had been prophesized, not only by the history of social protest in sports but by the recent actions of the NFL’s professional cousins, the National Basketball Association and Women’s National Basketball Association.

Both NBA and WNBA players have coupled black lives matter-related comments with symbolic protests on the court before and after games, wearing black T-shirts with messages inscribed on the front and back to show their alliance with the anti-violence, pro-black, pro-economic advancement movements. Women players have even been fined for their convictions. After days of resistance and pressure, WNBA administrators finally buckled and rescinded the fines.

Related: WNBA Fining Players For Protesting Police Brutality Is Misogynoir At Its Finest

Watch the clip below and let us know what you think.




Antwan is an educator, cultural critic, actor, and writer for Wear Your Voice Mag (WYV), where he focuses on the dynamics of class, race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Prior to joining the team at WYV, he was an adjunct professor in the African American Studies Department at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia, where he taught African American Literature. He has traveled the U.S. and U.K. showcasing a fifty-five minute, one-person play titled Whitewash, which focuses on the state of black men in the post-civil rights era. Antwan received his B.A. in English and Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and M.A. in African American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and NAACP theater nominee.

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