This Time the National Anthem Singer Took a Knee

The performanceáof the national anthem at the start of a sports game is so ubiquitous that many people barely give it a thought. But earlier this year, Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers ignited a powder keg when he opted to sit — and later kneel — through theásong.

Kaepernick did so in protest of the ongoing violence against people of color in the United States, stating thatáhe did not want to “stand up and show pride in a country” that oppresses people of color. His protest has spread like wildfire — and not just through the NFL. Other sports leagues took notice, and the gesture hasáincluded athletes like soccer star Megan Rapinoe, as well asácoachesá– and on more than one occasion, the band playing the anthem.

Now, breast cancer survivor Leah Tysseáhas joined their ranks, opting to drop to one knee partway through singing the national anthem at an NBA game. Her choiceásymbolized solidarity with people of color throughout the nation, including the members of the Sacramento Kings who locked arms while she sang.

While many on the right — along with Supreme Court JusticeáRuth Bader Ginsburgá–áhave been dismissive or actively hostile to the movement, it has become a powerful gesture, perhaps made all the more potent by critics.

Just as athletes ruffled feathers by wearing Black Lives Matter shirts to games, or raising fists in salute on theáOlympic podiumáand during the national anthem, those who are choosingáto sit out the national anthem are making a statement about America.

It’s an expression of their free speech rights, but also a powerful comment for those who often think of sports as apolitical: Athletes have opinions and values, and some of them are directly impactedáby police violence.

“I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do,” Tysse wrote on Facebook.

She continued,ácommenting on the nature of white privilege and the need for white Americans to pay attention to what’s going on around them:

Whether or not you can see if from your vantage point, there is a deep system of institutionalized racism in America, from everyday discrimination to disproportionate incarceration of people of color to people losing their lives at the hands of the police simply for being black. This is not who we claim to be as a nation. It is wrong and I won’t stand for it.

At least one of the fellowábreast cancer survivors who attended the game as part of an event was furious, dismissing her actions as a “distraction” and suggesting that Tysse “stick toásinging.” The womanáinsisted that the event should have been about breast cancer and “helping women,” but she missed the mark.

Many breast cancer awareness campaigns add little substantive commentary to the existing dialogue surrounding cancer: Most people are aware that breast cancer exists, but they aren’t aware of how to take meaningful steps to help breast cancer patients.

While Tysse may not have intended it this way, drawing attention to the value of black lives at a breast cancer event was particularly apt.

Black women are less likely to get breast cancer, but they’re paradoxically more likely to die of it, thanks to extreme health care disparities in America. Tysse’s comments about white privilege and policing apply to health care disparities as well, with white Americans having access to far more health care opportunities than people of color.

Declaring that Black Lives Matter at an event about breast cancer is, in fact, an excellent way to raise awareness about the unjust racial imbalances surrounding diagnoses and treatment.

Photo Credit: Kevin Morris/Unspalsh

148 comments

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill11 months ago

This is getting out of hand. The NFL or the team owners need to step in and stop this. Such disrespect to our country and the men & women who are serving in the military.

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Elaine W.
Elaine Wabout a year ago

Wonderful to live in a free country where heartfelt opinions can be expressed.

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Peggy B.
Peggy Babout a year ago

TYFS

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Peggy B.
Peggy Babout a year ago

TYFS

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William C.
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

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Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyerabout a year ago

Hmmmmmm! No comment.

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Helga Ganguly
Helga Gangulyabout a year ago

The only people who don't get that seem to be Republicans. What happened to you people? White Supremecists? Really? I saw a big ol' beer-bellied skinhead on TV arguing with Mr. Ramos from Univision. Not arguing.He was being and overbearing slob.
Picture this, a man in a XXXXL plaid shirt with the sleeves ripped off at the shoulders, random tattoos distributed like dung daisies on his arms and neck. He stood there defending T rump because "white is so much better than everybody else."
"Why?" asks Ramos.
"Because they are."
" Says who ?"
" Says G-d."
Really. Because I am so much whiter than either of them. I came from Der Vater Land. My siblings are even blonde and blue-eyed. My father fought in the German Army. How white is that?

These Neo-Nazis are so ill-informed that that might make them think my father would be a natural bestie.Oh dear. When do we inform these myopic moppets that, just like the U.S., the loudmouths made it seem they were in the majority and the rest had fled, were afraid, thought they " had no skin in the game" till they realized everyone was going to get skinned. My mother left Germany on Krystall Nacht. The night of broken glass. She was a pianist. My grandmother was a linguist. Dangerous criminals. My grandfather was Jewish. So my father's marriage to my mother was an act of courage. He stole ration tickets and sent them home. She sent him cartons of cigarettes to share and barter with. They told me stories about trials that these

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Helga Ganguly
Helga Gangulyabout a year ago

I was neutral and somewhat sympathetic to Mr. K (since we really don't have racial equality in America) but the reasons he gave were so superficial, I really wish he had made a more considered and thoughtful protest for the right reasons but he's young and the young are allowed make mistakes.And protesting the government non-violently is American. He is not a traitor.He is figuring thing out, as we all must. And-Black Lives DO Matter.

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Helga Ganguly
Helga Gangulyabout a year ago

At least she thought about the issue.

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Joanne p.
Joanne pabout a year ago

ty

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