Jeff Martin

Jeff Martin

If we start boycotting all businesses with whose politics we disagree, I’d be missing me some Chick-fil-A, while others wouldn’t be able to shop Amazon while sipping a Starbucks coffee. Instead of silly product boycotts. Make a real difference. Vote. Volunteer. Get to know your neighbors. Just do that, I say. And stop destroying things you paid good money for, that’s just silly.

Most current and former military I speak with get it. But there are so many others who can’t comprehend why and become so enraged with NFL players who have chosen to silently protest during the National Anthem to bring attention to racial inequality and police brutality. I could understand the anger if protesters were giving America the middle finger, but they’re not. They are sending the message that young black males are Americans too and asking for our attention so they can be heard.

And their right to do so is pretty self-explanatory in the FIRST Amendment. The freedom to protest is woven into the fabric of our nation. Without it we still might be sitting at separate lunch counters and women might not be preparing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Why does it anger so many when athletes take a silent knee to protest social injustice? Ever put yourself in their shoes? I imagine it is a very tough decision for an athlete to make, putting in jeopardy their career and endorsement deals for something they believe strongly.

Do you really believe that President Donald Trump, the loudest detractor of the players protesting, should be the moral authority on the issue? Does he even know the words to our National Anthem? And he has held a grudge against the NFL since 1986 when the NFL refused to merge his USFL team into the League.

Texas sportscaster Dale Hansen gave a passionate explanation a year ago on why we should support athletes taking part in protests. He said in part, “the young black athletes are not disrespecting America or the military by taking a knee during the anthem, they are respecting the best thing about America, it’s a dog whistle to the racist among us to say otherwise…we have white men in America who wave the Nazi flag, and the Confederate flag, and he (Trump) is concerned about taking a knee because it disrespects this flag.”

I hope that setting fire to a pair of Nikes doesn’t become epitomized as the cross burning on the black man’s lawn, because some have perceived it that way. Yes, you’re free to do as you please with your Nikes, but publicly destroying them sends a poor message to the black community.

Earlier this year, Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham told LeBron James “to shut up and dribble,” for his criticism of Trump. I’m not sure what gives her that right. Athletes, actors, teachers, janitors, rich and poor, we all have the right to offer opinion and discuss politics, despite what Laura Ingraham thinks. It often takes those with wealth and privilege to draw the necessary attention to injustices.

Some conservatives are also livid by the fact Levi Strauss announced last week that they were teaming up with groups working to prevent gun violence. Ford Motor Company added their voice in support of the protesting athletes over the weekend, announcing players have that right and that it should be respected.

So, if you spot someone in the Chick-fil-A drive-thru on a scooter, barefoot and half-naked. Odds are it’s a Trump supporter who got rid of their Harley and F-150 pickup after setting fire to their Nikes and Levis.

If you do choose to boycott Nike and watch Nascar instead of the NFL on Sundays, by all means that’s your right and I’ll support you too. I just might not agree.

It will likely take white players and NFL owners to join the protest for the issue to become anything other than the distraction it has become. I applaud Nike for taking a big step in continuing the conversation. And apparently I’m not alone; Nike sales have increased 31 percent since the new commercial featuring Colin Kaepernick debuted last week.

Sacrifice doesn’t only occur on the battlefield. It can take place on a bus, crossing a bridge or along the sidelines of a football field. I proudly stand for the National Anthem so others may kneel. There is nothing as patriotic as protest.