The simple timeline goes like this: NFL quarterback kneels during the American national anthem in protest against police brutality towards African-Americans during the 2016 NFL season: fellow players join in: outrage ensues: president makes protest about anti-Americanism. However, Colin Kaepernick’s initial stand has turned into something much bigger, something which has struck two very different, yet equally as passionate, chords.
Riding high on the horse of gun-ho patriotism, and oblivious to the submissive and respectful act of kneeling, Trump suggested to his Alabaman crowd a few weeks ago: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now… he is fired’?” Given that nearly 70% of the NFL is comprised of African-Americans, Trump’s comments read as a racial attack, felt not only in the league, but in broader American society too.
Enter hip-hop, a genre that has never just been about the music: it has always kept a steady connection to blackness, immortalised by Public Enemy frontman Chuck D as “the Black CNN.” It is hardly surprising that hip-hop artists have gathered in vocal support of Kaepernick’s stand, and in powerful opposition to Trump’s careless and divisive remarks.
Social media was set ablaze with hip-hop voices, young and old alike. Accompanied by a picture of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ black power salute during the medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics, the gangsta rap icon turned TV star Ice-T tweeted, “People… Using sports as a platform for PROTEST is nothing new… Do your History.” A day later, hip-hop mogul Diddy uploaded an Instagram post combining the video of Trump’s inflammatory remarks with the caption, “THE LINE HAS NOW BEEN OFFICIALLY CROSSED!!! Time to show him and them #blackexcellence #LETSGO EVERYONE REPOST THIS ASAP pls!!!!”
T.I., …read more