Dez Bryant Refused To Kneel and Now Wants To Critique Kaepernick

He claimed the movement had no "call to action." Did he miss the point?

Allison Wiltz
LEVEL
Published in
6 min readSep 28, 2021

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Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

When Kaepernick started to take a knee during the national anthem in 2016, he caught backlash from all sides. Many White Americans, including President Trump at the time, disagreed with his decision. And liberals don't get a pass. I'm old enough to remember when Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the White feminists' pride and joy, said of his movement — "I think it's dumb and disrespectful." And yes, I've waited a respectful enough time to speak on this. So, let's go there.

Kneeling during the anthem helped to raise awareness about racial injustice. It’s ironic that RBG spent her life advocating for women's rights but failed to see why Black people needed a referendum on racism. How can White women understand the plight of suffragists who participated in hunger strikes, but not a Black man, kneeling during the anthem? Somehow it’s “dumb” when Black folks fight for their rights.

First of all, the original anthem is racist. "No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave." So ask yourself if you would rejoice in an anthem that celebrated your ancestors' persecution. Even if you would, you couldn't expect others to forsake historical evidence for blind patriotism.

Secondly, America has never lived up to its fundamental promise of treating all citizens equally under the law. Anti-black racism is the backdrop of these protests. Hence, Kaepernick's protest became the much-needed bat signal highlighting racial inequality. He did not kneel to cause harm but rather to inspire change.

Over the course of his life, one in every thousand Black men will die from police brutality in America. So, Black leaders like Kaepernick took a knee to demand more. If that's dumb, then we need to go full-on stupid. Nah, but with all seriousness, RBG was just one of many White people who had something negative to say about Kaepernick's peaceful protest.

And White people were not the only ones throwing stones at Kaepernick’s movement. Every Black player did not decide to kneel for the anthem. In fact, Dez Byrant, a former wide receiver for the Cowboys, refused to…

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Allison Wiltz
LEVEL
Writer for

Womanist Scholar bylines @ Momentum, Oprah Daily, ZORA, GEN, EIC of Cultured #WEOC Founder allisonthedailywriter.com https://ko-fi.com/allyfromnola