Discussing the banning of the national anthem in sports distracts us from the actual issue: racism

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The NBA missed the point this time. 

Almost four years ago, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to peacefully protest the injustice done to Black people in this country. 

But, again, that was almost four years ago — and nothing has changed. 

The conversation of what behavior should be exhibited during the national anthem continues to be the focus instead of the actual reason people decide to kneel or rather forgo the playing of the anthem.

During the years, the NBA has found itself on the right side of history, allowing players to express their advocacy with support from their league without fearing consequence.

As fans and activists were proud of the efforts they saw in the NBA bubble, others questioned if this would serve as another distraction to the public. 

Now, we’re months removed from the bubble and back to regular games, and we find ourselves distracted once again. 

The initial reaction some had was to applaud Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, for stopping his team from playing the national anthem before home games. We thought, “Wow, he cares” — a white man with that much power and influence can begin to encourage his other colleagues to join the conversation with action instead of just with their money behind closed doors. 

The NFL should be applauded for its recent contributions, specifically their pledge of $250 million over a 10-year period to “combat systemic racism and support the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African Americans.”

However, the question lingers: why now? Where was this support four years ago when Kaepernick brought this matter to the NFL’s front door? Kaepernick was blackballed from the sport, and now, the NFL is working to change the negative opinions that have formed when comparing the league to new modern-day slavery. 

The feelings some had about Cuban’s action were short lived as a day later, the NBA stated that every team was required to play the national anthem. Cuban was found clarifying his statement, saying that his organization has no problem playing the anthem at all but that members of the community didn’t feel it fully represented them.

Here we go again on this never-ending cycle.

This is another debate that will last weeks or months and distract us from issues such as racism and discrimination that remain pervasive in this country. 

Why does the discussion on how NBA teams force teams to play the anthem matter?

Whether the anthem is played or not, people are still racist. Someone has immense hatred for the Black players they see dribble a ball across their TV screens. These people only care about Black people’s existence if it’s a talking point about their favorite team winning a game. They would clutch their wallet tightly in fear if a Black man walked into a gas station with a hoodie on. 

I no longer want to waste my time with meaningless discussions that deviate from the task at hand. The anthem isn’t an accurate depiction of the United States. They say this land is free and home of the brave.

There are exclusions on the free part, and this country sees Black people being brave as a threat.

Veterans who risked their lives for the anthem and fought for freedom should not be disrespected. People should stand, kneel or praise whatever they feel is important to them in terms of how they feel about this country.

When some Black people think about this country, they feel numb. They try to do double the work, be as polite as possible and add prestigious things to their resume in hopes for an ounce of respect — and that still is not enough.

Everyone should be just as tired and disgusted with these conversations that distract us from the real issues as Black people. Today we argue about the anthem, again, but we turn a blind eye to the continuous murders of Black people by the police.

These conversations shouldn’t make anyone forget about Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin and George Floyd.