While our Congressman Cedric Richmond and other high placed African Americans are accepting Drew Brees’ apology for his statement that categorized peaceful protest against racism and injustice as demonstrated by such acts as silently kneeling during the playing of the national anthem as somehow disrespecting the flag or the military, we at The New Orleans Tribune refuse to do so.
We want to go on record to say here, in our own pages and on our own platform, that his insensitive babble earlier in the week as it relates to so-called disrespect of the flag, the national anthem or the military, especially in the midst of the racist mayhem that is engulfing conversations and dominating the news media, typifies the blatant insensitivity of White privilege. And the fact that it took the outcry and comeuppance of Drew’s African-American teammates (and perhaps the underlying fear of losing multi-million dollar endorsement contracts and media gigs) to elicit the polished, well-written apology (straight from some PR person’s pen) is, quite frankly, insulting.
We are not surprised by what he said. We are surprised that others were so surprised. Four years ago, when Colin Kaepernick came under fire for his peaceful protest, Brees disagreed with it then. Never mind the trail of Black bodies killed at the hands of police and White people in America without justice prevailing. His concern way back then was for the flag, the military, a song, and some lofty ideals that this nation has yet to live up to—not for his fellow man. We remember.
Moreover, history with the Saints organization and others like it that have profited handsomely off the backs and talents of young Black men, tells us that we should not be surprised. Which takes us to the Saints, the darlings of the city.
Those Saints, who have all of New Orleans buck jumping and second lining at the toss of a ball. Those Saints who, it seems to us, are so emblematic of the economic divide in the city.
Those Saints, on the receiving end of excessive tax breaks, below market rental rates and deals on of prime real estate on Poydras Street and on and on. The Saints, who as an organization, as far as we can see, have no sterling history of philanthropy or economic inclusion or wealth sharing in the Black community. Those Saints that typify the not-so subtle racism that pervades our city, our state, our country—that very same racism that has all Black people crying out at long last, “take your knee off our necks. ”
Admittedly our particular beef with the Saints goes to the organization’s absolute and high-handed refusal to advertise in The New Orleans Tribune or any other Black-owned media as far as we can tell. And our staff has been calling on them for 35 years. But we digress.
The Served a Country that Hated Them
Drew Brees, while you boldly and self-righteously disavow the “disrespecting of the flag” as obviously represented in your mind by Colin Kaepernick, we have heard nary a word from you about the injustice and racism Black men and women face in this country daily.
Drew Brees, while you say that you envision your two grandfathers who fought for this country during World War II, one in the army and one in the Marines, both risking their lives to protect our country and trying to make it a better place and the thought brings you to tears, we too have memories of grandfathers, fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins and other family members who have fought in every war since the Civil War.
But our memories do more than bring tears. They dredge up feelings of anger and anguish, tales of men who returned home after serving this nation in one war or another—good enough to fight and die for America—but not yet worthy of the right to vote or of sitting at the front of the bus or even being extended the simple right of being treated like men. Many of them were even denied the GI Bill that allowed your grandfather and others that look like him to buy homes, get educations, build wealth and experience the American Dream. Our fathers and grandfathers fought under the same flag that you and others like you now use to cloak your privilege and ignorance—or your racism, which is it?
Black men and women have served and continue to serve in America’s military with an unwavering dedication–one that rivals the service of your grandpa and your dad and anyone else in your family, Drew, because they served a country that hated them and still hates them. They served a country where a Black man gets murdered by lethal knee to neck until he suffocates for allegedly passing fake currency, while White mass murderers get treated to flame-broiled burgers before being taken to jail without one scratch after slaughtering nine innocent Black people in their house of worship. So if you don’t mind (and even if you do), you don’t get to talk about what is sacred–not to us.
We are Done Helping Y’all Understand
And yes, we are taking it there. Here is why. We are done explaining to people that the protest initiated by the still-unsigned Colin Kaepernick was not a protest of the military, or the flag or even the National Anthem.
It was a protest during the anthem to shed light on a specific and persistent problem that is still today a stain on a nation that dares to hold itself up as the best in the world. But we are absolutely over trying to get people to understand that. Anyone that does not get by now, does not want to get it.
In that same way, we are done explaining to people why Black Lives Matter or why “all lives matter” is an inappropriate response. At this stage, anyone that does not understand any of that, does not want to understand because understanding would completely unsettle their belief system. It would unsettle their privilege. Getting any of that would shake them to their racist core.
Side note to the National Football League: We see you too. Things are getting a little dicey and now you also want to be our friend. Well, instead of trying to convince us with fancy, useless statements that you, too, now are our ally, put your money where your mouth is.
Write a big, fat ridiculous check to Black Lives Matter. Someone sign Colin Kaepernick NOW. And allow players to protest however they see fit so long as it does not occur during the actually playing of a game.
And for the love of all that is right, if you are going to write a statement condemning injustice racism in America, at least have the guts to use the word “racism”. What in the hell are the “systemic issues” you referred to in your statement. We swear that was utterly useless. Were you guys even serious?
Let’s Get Real
So, we are good on the apology, Drew. Save that. We heard you the first time. You said what you meant. You meant everything you said.
Let’s get real. Be honest. What could you have learned in the few hours between that interview and your first apology that brought about such a change of heart? Nothing.
We know exactly what happened. Already fed up with the injustice they see happening to Black people across the nation, your throngs of heretofore unsuspecting Black fans were irate. You know cancel culture is real.
Teammates and colleagues were upset. And the last thing anyone wants is division in the organization, especially on the field.
Like we said, endorsements may have started to look a little shaky. And you realized that running your mouth could mess with your money. Suddenly, you’re an ally. After catching hell for your stance, now you call yourself our friend.
Well, with friends like you, who needs enemies. So take that apology, crumple it up into a ball, and pitch it in trash.