There is no greater moment than right now for white people, who believe that the atrocities happening against people of color (POC) are wrong, to stand up and say so. It is paramount for all of us to band together and do what we can to make this world a better place. While it is easy for white folks to deny that racism exists and even easier for them to just ignore it altogether, it says volumes when those of them who see our hurt take a stand in solidarity. NFL player Seth DeValve is setting a precedent that other white allies who want to help the cause and end racism can follow.
You know the saying, “If you see something say something?” Well, that is pertinent given today’s racial climate in America. DeValve, a Cleveland Browns running back, joined fellow black players in kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. As most people know, Colin Kaepernick, who lost his job as a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, was the first to kneel in protest of the way people of color are treated by law enforcement and the government in this country. People have ridiculed him for taking a stand, but that hasn’t stopped other players from feeling the need to show their solidarity in the fight against hate. DeValve, who is married to a black woman, said that because he has mixed children, he felt compelled to kneel alongside 11 other Browns players to show his support.
“I myself will be raising children that don’t look like me, and I want to do my part as well to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment than we have right now… So I wanted to take the opportunity with my teammates during the anthem to pray for our country and also to draw attention to the fact that we have work to do.”
This is an important moment in this particular area of protest because it shows that more and more people are getting it. DeValve understands that his privilege as a white man shields him from many of the hardships that black men face. But he also understands that because his children are mixed, it is his duty to create a world where they never have to worry about the things POC currently face. That is commendable and is the perfect example of what white allies can do to further the cause.
As I’ve stated in the past, this fight against the system of racism is not going to be won merely through counter-protests and having our (POC) voices heard. It is going to take the collective effort of everyone – white, black, Asian, gay, straight, etc. – in places of influence to stand up to it. However that looks to each person is for each individual to decide, but when it comes down to it, those who believe in love and equality have to act. DeValve taking a knee is an effective action!
His act of solidarity is a great show of support, but as his wife Erica Harris DeValve stated, it is not to make him out to be a white savior. She wrote a blog post for Very Smart Brothas in which she explains,
“While I understand (and am deeply proud) that Seth is the first white NFL player to kneel during a demonstration like this… I would like to push back against some of the attention he’s been getting that portrays him as some sort of white savior to a movement that was started and has been carried on by black football players for about a year now.”
Harris DeValve speaks a very important truth – black players are the ones who started the protest and the fact that a white player joined the movement does not make it any more important. What it does do, however, it hopefully brings things into perspective for other white players and white people about the realities that POC face and how much of an impact said realities are having on the everyday lives of so many. DeValve kneeling doesn’t legitimize the movement; it adds to it in a way that only a white ally can.
White people, and even those POC who think that other POC are doing too much speaking about racism in America, often times feel that we are just complaining about something that isn’t “really that bad.” But for those people who think that black folks are just crying wolf on bigotry in the United States, for them, it says something to their psyche when one of their own joins all the complainers and ungratefuls.
I am very thankful for Kaepernick leading the way and bringing awareness to the struggle on such a huge a platform as the NFL, and I am thankful for players like DeValve who respect it enough to use their privilege to assist in moving the cause forward.