Charlottesville Strikes Close To Bennett, Takes A Seat For National Anthem
By Forrest Hunt
Posted on September 14, 2017 11:04am PST
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett has taken a seat during the national anthem in protest. The two time pro bowler has used the National Football League as a platform to provoke his displeasure with the way African Americans are treated.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen NFL players use their platform as a way to shine light on social justice issues. During the 2016 season we saw San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick take a similar stand to focus attention on the Black Lives Matter movement. Bennett plans to use his social popularity to show Americans that he won’t stand for oppression against African Americans any longer but he also doesn’t want to end up like Kaepernick - unemployed.
Michael Bennett has as strong of an opinion as anyone and he tells CNN just why he won’t “stand.” “I can’t stand for the national anthem. I can’t stand right now. I’m not going to be standing until I see the equality and freedom.”
Bennett, who was born in Louisiana, grew up in Texas and talks about growing up around racism and hatred, “I grew up around that, listening and remembering those things, and thinking about Charlottesville brought back those memories. It actually brought tears to my eyes to see people and having to hate somebody because of their color.”
Bennett reassures us that he’s not trying to disrespect the flag and those who have died for it, but he’s trying to honor this experience as a son of a father who was in the Navy. Bennett told CNN, “At this point, if you think you’re being silent, you’re being dishonest. And we can be silenced no more because we’re living in this reality where I can’t hide behind the logo on my helmet. I can’t hide behind the shield. I can’t hide behind the glamour and glitz of the NFL.” He also encouraged others to join him in using this NFL national platform to show people that they need to fight for what’s right. That’s exactly what teammate Cliff Avril did when asked about planning to kneel for the anthem.
Avril told The Seattle Times, “I just feel like it’s a positive message… it’s bringing awareness more so than anything. But at the same time, I have family in the military, so I respect them as well, so I stood up for them.” Cliff Avril has family in the military which is why he hesitated to take this stand right away, worried that he may offend them. Ultimately Avril knew it was the right thing to do so he sat with Bennett not only for his beliefs, but for his own integrity and the social justice of this country.