Change is a process of life that some people are unable to deal with. Along with an adjustment in routine, the coronavirus has forced society to pay more attention to situations around the world, including social justice. When people witnessed the murder of George Floyd, change slowly began to take shape once again, even in the sports world.

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the U.S. National Anthem, drawing the ire of a lot of individuals, including President Trump. Over the next few weeks, other black players knelt as well. When pressed, Colin stated that he would stop when there was better treat of minorities. He also wanted to bring attention to police brutality. It was always a peaceful protest. However, Trump never felt that way – he saw it as “disrespecting the flag”, and called for any player seen doing that to be fired. Colin has not been signed by an NFL team since, and I feel that is unfair and unfortunate. He has the ability to play. He even took the San Francisco 49ers to a Superbowl. He got the attention of many by “taking a knee”. Sadly, he paid a hefty price for expressing the way he felt about an issue that impacted many.

With the protests taking place globally because of the video portraying a cop – Derek Chauvin aggressively placing a knee on the neck of Floyd, causing him to lose consciousness, the Black Lives Matter movement has taken on more meaning. On June 5, black NFL players – Deshawn Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Odell Beckham Jr and Saquan Barkley, among others posted a video imploring the commissioner to “condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people.” Not long after, Commissioner Roger Goodell shot a video saying that Black Lives Matter and indicating that he supports the cause. He even said he is prepared to kneel with the players. That is a big step. But, will he back it up? His first chance to do so, if the NFL starts on time, is September 10 in front of a national audience in Kansas City.

Drew Brees found himself in some trouble recently when he stated that he did not support those who knelt during the anthem. In his mind, it disrespected the flag and those who fought for it. Trump made the same statement four years ago, and applauded Drew’s opinion. Unfortunately, his cohorts and other players in the league did not, and they let him know. Drew walked back his statement. I am sure his friends educated him and told him the problems black people experience in America. It is likely that once Drew listened to them, he realized he made a mistake.

It seems like black and white players will kneel while the anthem is played during the season. At least one head coach indicated he will participate. That is a sign of progress. Another sign of progress – after four years in forced exile, teams are thinking and talking more about bringing in Colin Kaepernick for a workout.

Another organization was forced to endure change in the wake of the rejuvenated Black Lives Matter movement. Nascar has flown the confederate flag at each of its tracks for many decades. In 2015, the company attempted to ban the flag, and stop fans from waving it during races, but, neither occurred. The George Floyd murder and the protests changed all that. Bubba Wallace, the series only black driver, took the lead role in the call for change. After much discussion, the confederate flag was banned. It was a great moment for the sport and it demonstrated that the league is accepting of black fans.

Over the past few weeks, we have seen the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks. They were all victimized by police actions. All were black. Peaceful protests are still being held, not only in America, but globally. We see that other races are joining the call for justice and equality. I am happy to see that. But, when the protests are over, and things get back to some sense of normalcy, will races still want to stick together? I think this progress should continue. People should listen and talk to one another. Everyone will learn – and there is still a lot to learn.

Remember, it is not a crime to be black, nor is it a crime to be brown, or any other skin colour. We are all God’s children and should all be treated fairly. The blacks have been through a great deal since they came to the west as slaves, and I think that stigma has not been erased. I believe if they are not victimized and if they are given a fair chance, we will see a huge difference. Be fair. Be respectful. Be understanding. Do your part to help eradicate racism, and be part of the change.

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