Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is a white man. Let’s start there.
As ironic as it seems, the weigh-ins on the protests around the NFL over the weekend are going to be more heavily weighted for white men.
In fact, black players might tell you the same thing: On August 16th, the Seattle Seahawks’ superstar defensive end Michael Bennett appeared on ESPN’s SC6, and while he did explain the background of his own choice to sit for the national anthem — and how the events in Charlottesville sealed his decision — he also said something very telling about the effectiveness of the protests.
It would take a white player to really get things changed, because when somebody from the other side understands and they step up and they speak up about it … it would change the whole conversation. Because when you bring somebody who doesn’t have to be a part of [the] conversation making himself vulnerable in front of it, I think when that happens, things will really take a jump.”
Bennett’s not wrong. That logic applies to many situations and forms of discrimination, as frustrating as it can be. It’s what makes an effective ally for marginalized groups: You listen to those affected, then you lend your privilege to the situation in whatever way helps best.
Alex Smith is looking like a pretty good ally in the NFL right now.
After the Chiefs’ decisive victory over the Chargers on Sunday, the Kansas City Star took down Smith’s thoughts on the protests, and specifically Donald Trump’s “contribution” to the conversation. After saying that it “struck a chord a little bit to see guys get attacked for a peaceful protest,” Smith was asked about Trump:
I’m talking about the comments that were made by the president, targeting the NFL, targeting the quality and character of guys in this league for that very protest. I found that very alarming. It’s the same guy who couldn’t condemn violent neo-Nazis. And he’s condemning guys taking a knee during the anthem. There are bigger issues out there that he probably should be worried about. But for some reason the NFL is on his mind.”
That’s as good as taking a knee, Alex.
Featured image via Jeff Gross/Getty Images