New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has called out President Trump in an Instagram post, telling him that NFL players kneeling during the national anthem has nothing to do with the American flag itself, but with issues of racial injustice.
“Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been,” Brees captioned a photo featuring the text “To Donald Trump.” “We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities.”
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The post was in response to Trump’s tweet criticizing Brees’ apology earlier last week for saying that he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country” in an interview with Yahoo Finance. Brees’ original statement received backlash from fellow NFL stars, including some of his teammates, and he later apologized.
“He should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high,” Trump tweeted. “We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag – NO KNEELING!”
Kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games caused controversy back in 2017 when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the movement to protest police brutality and the oppression of Black rights. The topic has come up once again due to ongoing protests surrounding the death of George Floyd, during which many protestors have chosen to kneel as a sign of solidarity.
“We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week. We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform,” Brees continued in his post. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history! If not now, then when?”
Brees’ Instagram statement came just hours after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a Twitter video that the NFL wrongly handled players kneeling and expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Brees’ post echoes Goodell’s sentiment and encourages other non-black people to hold themselves accountable for their own racism.
“We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action,” Brees wrote. “The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.”
Read Brees’ full post below.
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