The Black Lives Matter movement has brought to the forefront the mistreatment of black men and women throughout the western world. They have done this by being confrontational and taking direct action against the police and other groups, which has been effective. However, it is no longer time for aggressive tactics, but time to open up a peaceful dialogue. It’s time to stop being Malcolm X and be Martin Luther King.
In recent weeks, players in the National Football League (NFL) have been doing just that by symbolically protesting the American national anthem by not standing for it but taking a knee instead, or by raising their fists in solidarity. Their intent is to send a peaceful, but powerful, message to the world: NFL players will no longer tolerate the systemic racism and police brutality that has been plaguing the United States.
In particular Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback on the San Francisco 49ers, who started the movement, has received harsh criticism via social media that is often racist and hateful. Kaepernick has said that he won’t stand and show pride to a country that not only oppresses black people and people of colour, but forces them to live in fear for their lives.
The group of players protesting throughout the NFL has grown: from Kaepernick’s teammate Eric Reid, to Jeremy Lane of the Seattle Seahawks, to Brandon Marshall of the Denver Bronco’s. The trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Because of Kaepernick and players like him, a dialogue has started across the NFL, throughout its fanbase, and even those who don’t care for football. Kaepernick is the Martin Luther King of this movement.
While players in the NFL have been protesting peacefully on a global stage, the same can’t be said about BLM. On occasion they may have gone a step too far in their protests, such as their actions during the Gay Pride Parade in Toronto this summer, where they blocked the parade.
There’s been more than just protests by NFL players, however. Police and members of the Black Lives Matter movement in Wichita, Kansas held a cookout in July. Not only did they peacefully enjoy one another’s company, the cookout itself helped show people the value of dialogue and the value of understanding each other’s needs and wants. An open dialogue will always hold more value than aggressive behaviour.
These peaceful moments have made more strides than any riot or aggressive tactic could ever hope to make. Kaepernick and other NFL players have brought their message of peace to a global stage, the peaceful protests across the U.S. have helped to gain the respect of the world, and the cookout in Kansas has shown that an open dialogue does not only lead to peace, but it leads to a sense of camaraderie that has long since been lost in the United States. An open dialogue creates a long-term solution. Anger only begets more anger. We’ve had enough of that.