In an “ebony and ivory” moment on Thursday before the preseason game between the Eagles and the Bills exhibition game, Eagles defensive end Chris Long put his arm around safety Malcolm Jenkins, who elevated his fist in protest of law enforcement’s unfair treatment of minorities.
Jenkins has been raising his fist during the Star Spangled Banner since last year, taking a cue from former San Francisco quarter back Colin Kaepernick who spent last year on one knee during the playing of the national anthem.
Writing in Pro Football Talk, Darin Gantt makes the point that having a white athlete, in this case Chis Long, embrace the national anthem, it helps bolster the African American players case against perceived police racism.
However, Gantt’s suggestion prompts the question: Why does a white player need to participate in order to make a black player’s protest compelling? Why isn’t a black player’s protest enough?
Gantt writes of Long and Jenkins, “seeing them together on the sidelines gave a visual to the words of Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who said the protests against discrimination won’t have as much traction until white players join in.”
Chris Long apparently agrees with that sentiment. Long told ESPN, “I’ve heard a lot of people say you need white athletes to get involved in the anthem protests. “I’ve said before I’ll never kneel for an anthem because the flag means something different for everybody in this country, but I support my peers. And if you don’t see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don’t think you’ll ever see it. So my thing is, Malcolm is a leader, and I’m here to show support as a white athlete.”
Jenkins now provides leadership for the NFL players’ off-the-field movement to fight social injustice. According to ESPN, Jenkins frequently visits Capitol Hill to talk with politicians about police brutality, has met local police officers, and participated in a ride-along with Philadelphia law enforcement.