Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett plans to sit during the national anthem this season to protest racial injustice. Bennett stayed true to his word Friday night when he sat down for the second consecutive week. However, this time he had notable support.
Bennett was joined by Seahawks center Justin Britt who stood next to Bennett and placed his hand on the defensive end’s shoulder. It was a gesture that meant a lot to Bennett and, quite frankly, many others.
“It was very touching for me, a very emotional moment to have that kind of solidarity from someone like Justin Britt who’s a known leader in our locker room, and who’s from a different part of America from me,” Bennett said, according to the team’s official website. “To be able to have that solidarity and be able to have somebody who’s behind me and know somebody I really trust, and to be able to see him put everything on the line to support one of his teammates, that was a very special moment, and an emotional moment. For me, it was very touching and I’m very thankful to be able to have somebody in my corner like that, and I’m appreciative of him.”
Britt’s action on Friday came in the wake of Bennett declaring his protest would gain more momentum and be more effective if white players were involved. Bennett’s message “triggered” in Britt’s mind so he decided to affiliate himself.
The Seahawks center isn’t the only white player to partake in the protest against racial injustice. On Thursday, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long stood with his arm around teammate Malcolm Jenkins as the Eagles safety stood with a raised fist during the national anthem.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say you need white athletes to get involved in the anthem protests,” Long said following Philadelphia’s preseason game, via ESPN’s Tim McManus. “I’ve said before I’ll never kneel for an anthem, because the flag means something different for everybody in this country, but I support my peers. And if you don’t see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don’t think you’ll ever see it. So my thing is, Malcolm is a leader, and I’m here to show support as a white athlete.”
Expect these national anthem protests to continue throughout the season. The protests combined with involvement in the community help spark social advancement.
Athletes have used their platforms to highlight inequities for a very long time. Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown are idolized in large part because of their positive impact on the country and world.
Today, it’s great athletes, black and white, are using their platform to promote positive social change. The conversation shouldn’t be about sitting during the national anthem. People must focus on why players are choosing to protest during the anthem. Starting with Colin Kaepernick last year and carried on to this season, athletes are sitting during the national anthem to protest social injustice.