After what had taken place in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long criticized the response of President Donald Trump, who said “both sides” were to blame for the violence surrounding the removal of a Confederate monument.
“You can say what you want about the president’s remarks,” Long said last week. “I wish he’d categorically spoken out against white supremacy.”
On Thursday, Long made another statement, this time by putting an arm around the shoulders of his teammate, safety Malcolm Jenkins, who was raising his right fist during the national anthem to protest police brutality toward African-Americans. Jenkins began that form of protest in 2016, when many other players began carrying out their own forms of protest during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Chris Long with his arm around teammate Malcolm Jenkins as he raises his fist during the national anthem. pic.twitter.com/RwXYFMl35V
— John Ketchum (@Ketchcast) August 18, 2017
“It’s been a hard week for everybody,” Long said after his team’s 20-16 preseason victory over the Buffalo Bills. “It’s not just a hard week for someone being from Charlottesville. It’s a tough week for America.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘Why do athletes get involved in the national anthem protests?’ I’ve said before that I’ll never kneel for an anthem because the flag means something different for everybody in this country, but I support my peers. 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.
“Malcolm is a leader and I’m here to show support as a white athlete.”
On Wednesday, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said on SportsCenter that a white player’s joining the national anthem demonstrations would dramatically affect how they resonate with society.
“It would take a white player to really get things changed,” Bennett said. “It would change the whole conversation. Because when you bring somebody who doesn’t have to be a part of [the] conversation making himself vulnerable in front of it, I think when that happens, things will really take a jump.”
In a statement last week, Jenkins challenged his fellow athletes to stand up to racism and join the protests taking place during the national anthem:
Last season, I raised my fist as a sign of solidarity to support people, especially people of color, who were and are still unjustly losing their lives at the hands of officers with little to no consequence. After spending time with police officers on ride-alongs, meeting with politicians on the state and federal level and grass roots organizations fighting for human rights, it’s clear that our criminal justice system is still crippling communities of color through mass incarceration. … I want to thank those that have dedicated their lives to this fight, as I know that it is not easy. And I want to challenge those who stay silent to be courageous and use your platforms to become part of the solution.
His teammate responded. “I just told Malcolm, ‘I’m here for you,’” Long said. “I think it’s a good time for people that look like me to be here for people that are fighting for equality.”