Journalist Jemele Hill joined a panel of activists, artists and experts in an open dialogue about racism and policing practices on the A&E special The Time Is Now: Race and Resolution, which aired Monday night. During the discussion, Hill called out NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his recent admission that the league should have supported players who knelt during the national anthem.
“My frustration, however, is that I don’t look at what people do when it’s convenient,” said Hill. “I look at what they do when it’s not convenient, and the NFL showed exactly who they are and what they’re about when it wasn’t convenient.”
Throughout the 2016 season, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick would kneel during the singing of the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic injustice. He opted out of his contract in March of 2017 and no other team signed him as a free agent. Considering his age and success, many rightfully felt he was being exiled from the NFL for his beliefs.
Hill also questioned the impact the current administration is going to have on the peaceful demonstrations by players going forward. “It’s a little tough for me to look at Roger Goodell’s apology as a step forward when the president came after Colin Kaepernick, when the president came after his players, he stood down,” said Hill. “What are they [NFL] gonna do if somebody decides to take a knee in the fall or whenever football comes back?”
President Trump has long been opposed to peaceful protest by kneeling. He recently tweeted his concern over the NFL’s new stance on the demonstration.
Could it be even remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2020
Despite being frustrated by racial inequality, Hill admits the current civil rights protests and Black Lives Matter movement have her optimistic about the future. She said, “I’m optimistic in the sense that you see that this has now become a nationwide cause and before it just felt as if black people were just punching against the air fruitlessly and no one was listening and that we were literally talking to a bunch of brick walls and now you see that there are a lot of people who suddenly understand that this has been a significant problem.”
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