In what began as a peaceful protest, members of the Beaumont Bulls football team are now receiving death threats and have had their season suspended.
On September 10th after getting permission from league officials, the young men took a knee during the national anthem. Within the day the kids began receiving racist hate mail and death threats. Keep in mind that these are just 11 and 12-year-old boys. Much like Colin Kaepernick, they are now learning the hard way that some people don’t think they have rights as American citizens.
“SINCE COLIN KAEPERNICK TOOK A STAND, WE WANTED TO DO THE SAME. WE WANTED TO STAND AGAINST RACISM AND INJUSTICE.”— JAELUN PARKERSON, 11, Beaumont Bulls Football Player
The Executive Board had initially showed strong support for the children. They issued a statement to KFDM, a CBS affiliate, which reads:
“The Beaumont Bulls organization is about uplifting and educating young boys and men of all ethnicities and cultures through sports and public service. We are not anti-military. We are not anti-law enforcement. Our players made the choice to kneel and not sit during the National Anthem in a silent and peaceful manner and we supported them then and now. However, their choice to express themselves has now made them a target for hateful comments and threats to their lives as well as those working with the team by those in our community and surrounding areas. These types of responses are not how we teach them to react when they don’t agree with something. We are truly disheartened by some of the responses, but we know that they are not representative of the entire Golden Triangle. It is our hope and desire to cultivate young men that will be leaders in our communities that will make a difference in this world and though their stance is not seen by all as a sign of progress, we believe that it was and will continue to support them.”
Executive Board turns their backs on youth football team.
According to Sean King, while initially showing support, the Executive Board instructed the Bulls not to protest during the following game. However, on September 17th, the boys showed that they would not have their voices quelled. They once again took a knee in the face of all the hatred they received.
In rather childish retaliation the Board suspended coach Rah-Rah Barber for the season. The Board told the coach that they thought he lost control of the situation by allowing parents to speak to the press and allowing the team to continue protesting.
What do they not understand about the freedom of expression so granted to every American? It is the boys right to protest. Nobody has the right to silence them.
“YOU HAVE TO HAVE THAT CONVERSATION WITH YOUR KIDS. YOU HAVE TO TALK ABOUT DRINKING, DRUGS, SEX AND NOW YOU HAVE TO TALK ABOUT BEING BLACK.”— Assistant Coach, Alfred Dean
After losing their mentor, coach Barber, the team took another hit with the resignation of coach Dean. They decided to up the ante on their protest by not showing up to their next practice. The Executive Board, being the children that they are, in turn canceled the rest of the season. In effect silencing the boys and simultaneously robbing them of the joy of playing a team sport.
This is disturbing on so many levels. These boys were being taught by Coaches Barber and Dean that standing (or in this case, kneeling) for what they believe in is the right thing to do. They were teaching these boys to have the courage of their convictions and to fight for what they believed is right. These are lessons that are valuable both on and off the field. When you are a Coach you are so much more than just somebody that teaches youth how to play a game. You are a mentor and a friend. An example setter and a leader. There is no finer example to set than showing young men that fighting for your values is one of the most important things you can do in your life.
By contrast this Executive Board is showing these young men that they should cave into social pressures even if they are wrong. A dangerous lesson for any young man or woman to learn at such a young age. This Executive Board is far from being Star Spangled Awesome.