Brooklyn College students gathered in a Boylan Hall classroom on Thursday to talk about the controversial NFL anthem protests, Colin Kaepernick, police brutality, and systemic racism.
The discussion was moderated by a member of the Brooklyn College Socialists and speakers included members from the Black History Month Committee, the Puerto Rican Alliance, the International Socialist Organization, and the Nu Omega Chi fraternity.
“People think that [Kaepernick] is protesting against America, protesting against the flag, protesting against the servicemen, but they don’t understand the point that he’s protesting against the racism in America,” said Tyrone Gayle, a member of Nu Omega Chi fraternity. Gayle said that if those who take offense to the protests view them as protests against America, then “there must be something wrong with the country as it relates to racism.”
Another speaker, Chelsea Higgins, brought up how many NFL fans dislike the anthem protests because they simply want to enjoy football, not to be embroiled in the country’s racial issues.
“You hear fans say, ‘When I watch football I just want to watch football. I don’t want to watch or listen to anything political,’” said Higgins. “But what people don’t realize is that after these football players take off their helmets [and] take off their pads, a lot of them are Black men and they have to face the life of being a Black man.”
Other topics that were discussed included Kaepernick’s statistical superiority to the several quarterbacks that were signed by NFL teams in this past off-season, President Trump’s infamous “son of a bitch” comment regarding protesting players, and a racially-charged comment made by NFL owner Bob McNair during an owners’ meeting in October.
“We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” McNair said. He soon expressed regret for making the comment in a statement that was released a week after the meeting.
After all the speakers finished, the audience got to weigh in and the discussion veered from the NFL anthem protests to the topics of political activism, police brutality, and the recent slew of sexual harassment and sexual assault accusations against powerful men that have come out since the many sexual abuse accusations that were levied against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein back in October.
Several audience members expressed dismay at how powerful people didn’t seem to care about the wellbeing of those in the lower classes of society. Others spoke about how Kaepernick’s political activism had inspired them to become activists themselves.