Despite generating unrelenting controversy, NFL teams’ anthem protests have reached the world stage, solidifying a global platform of resistance against police brutality and racial injustice.

 

Background:

Former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick faced mounting criticism last year when he sat out the national anthem to protest social injustice.

His approach soon changed after interacting with retired U.S. Army Vet Nate Boyer, who convinced Kaepernick to kneel instead. In doing so, Kaepernick maintained unity and honored service members while still promoting his message.

For some, it wasn’t enough. Kaepernick was labeled the most hated player in the NFL in a 2016 E-Poll Marketing Research NFL fan poll, with 22 percent of respondents saying they disliked him “a lot.”

The polarity is in the numbers: among African American respondents, disdain for Kaepernick dropped by 33 percent over a 2014 poll. Among Caucasians, it skyrocketed over 500 percent.

Though Kaepernick opted out of his 49ers contract for the 2017 season, his movement has thrived. NFL team owners, coaches, and players have unified behind the former quarterback’s goals, due primarily to inflammatory comments made by President Trump.

Trump blasted the NFL once again on Twitter last week, arguing teams who are “disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country” should not receive tax breaks.

But the president fails to see the irony behind his controversial statements. African Americans are routinely criticized for any act of protest — a trend which Georgetown University Sociology Professor Michael Eric Dyson brought center-stage in 2016.

“Black folks have, throughout history, displayed their patriotism by criticizing the nation for its shortcomings, and they have been, in turn, roundly criticized,” said Dyson. “When a black athlete bravely speaks up, we punish him.”

Now, Kaepernick’s message has begun spreading throughout the globe as foreign nations join the NFL in their solidarity against injustice.

 

What’s Happening Now:

Members of the German association football club Hertha BSC took a knee before their game with Schalke this Saturday, bringing the NFL anthem protests to an international platform.

Hertha BSC’s starting lineup linked arms and kneeled before the first pitch. The coaching staff and game officials later followed suit.

“Hertha BSC stands for tolerance and responsibility,” the club wrote on their official Twitter account. “For a tolerant Berlin and an open-minded world, now and forevermore!”


“We are living in the 21st century, not the 18th century,” Hertha BSC player Sebastian Langkamp said in an interview with Sky Sports. “There are some people who haven't developed their ideologies accordingly.”

Can’t imagine who he’s referring to.

Brand boss Peter Keuter said the decision to kneel embodies the club’s “solidarity not only with the US athletes, but people all over the world.”

“The knee has become a symbol of a clear statement against discrimination and racism, which reflects the attitude of our club,” Keuter told Bild. “Anyone remaining silent is an accomplice.”