Ever since Colin Kaepernick decided to protest the ongoing police brutality in the USA by kneeling during the national anthem of “a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” his words, along with other protesters’, have been missed and led the public and people in power to falsely accuse them for being unpatriotic, “disrespecting the flag,” and even have crude words thrown at them by the President, Donald Trump.
The NFL has not left the headlines since the start of the protest, with each day bringing new protesters (in the field and outside) bringing more on criticism and dispute, and the message still not being reached. And this week was no different. The NFL is making headlines since the Philadelphia Eagles, winner of the annual football championship game, were set to come to the White House to be congratulated by the President, a tradition started during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, but since February 4th, the day the Eagles won, players had started to opt out of the celebration due to various reasons: President Trump’s beliefs, values, and policy being the outlier among the players’ disinterest to attend the celebration.
Ultimately, due to the very small number of Eagles players willing accept the White House’s invitation, the White House cancelled the event replacing it with “Celebration of America.” While that is a discussion of its own, I want to direct our attention to the Eagles’, specifically player Malcolm Jenkin’s first press interview after the cancellation.
Using a series of large cards, Philadelphia Eagles star Malcolm Jenkins delivers a message on the criminal justice system and NFL players' community involvement after President Trump canceled the team's ceremony at the White House earlier this week. pic.twitter.com/dRSYvKgGfg
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 6, 2018
On Wednesday afternoon, Jenkins was surrounded by press, but instead of speaking he took an unusual route by picking up a large card with writing on it and silently held it in front of the rows of microphones aimed towards him. The card read, “More than 60% of people in prison are people of color.” Without hesitation, the interviewers kept their questions coming, but Jenkins kept his cards coming too, the second one having the hashtag #STOPTHESCHOOLTOPRISONPIPELINE.
The video of this interaction was shocking, not only due to the statistics and facts Jenkins held up, but due to the fact that Jenkins had a card labeled, “YOU AREN’T LISTENING.” His preparation of this card shows beforehand he knew the interviewers were not going to listen, and his intuition, unfortunately, was proven right when he had to hold up that card, multiple times, in between his “message on the criminal justice system and NFL players’ community involvement.” This short video showcases the reality that protesters, specifically black people, have to deal with: no one is listening but always speaking.
While jokes of parallels between a scene from the movie Love Actually and Malcolm Jenkin’s answering style erupted on social media, I am left wondering if this style of answering should be adapted by protesters and activists.
Currently, in the age of Trump, the media, sources, information, voices, etc. are all constantly questioned entities due to the war the President has waged on media. So we as a country have to take on the burden of doing as Jenkins did: disregard the ignorance surrounding him, keeping his mind on the goal of the movement, and ultimately taking control of the narrative so the correct message is delivered to the public. While this may be a burden on protesters and activists, Jenkin’s method shows us that it is a worth-while method to possess control of the conversation one is trying to incite in this case of the criminal justice system and police brutality, which is ultimately the goal and power activists and protesters want.