“Your value is determined by your Creator…not your employer.”
To My Brothers,
I pray this letter reaches you in the best of health and spirits, in spite of all the negative energy surrounding your chosen and earned profession. I write this open letter to my brothers in the NFL from a place of deep humility, love and great concern.
Recent comments made by Houston Texans’ franchise owner Bob McNair, comparing player protests to “inmates taking over the prison,” represent the straw that may have broken the camel’s back. Much respect to every player who has chosen to take a stand (publicly and privately). No amount of money is worth the compromise of your dignity. Know that your value is determined by your Creator, not by your employer. For this reason alone, you have no reason to Fear. When you stand for truth and justice, you are always on the right side of history.
I, like many others, am boycotting the National Football League for its treatment of Colin Kaepernick. Do not mistake our boycott of the league for a boycott of the NFL players. It is not. As a matter of fact, part of the purpose of the economic boycott is to address the conditions under which you (the NFL players) have been forced to play. There are some who believe that players who earn millions of dollars should simply be grateful for the opportunity to make that kind of money. The belief is that you should simply say “yessuh” to every dictate given by team owners and never display your God-given brilliance or speak out against injustice and oppression. People say these things as if you did not EARN every dime you have made through blood, sweat and tears. It must be made clear that NFL owners own the team, not you. You are entrepreneurs, not slaves or savages. You are entrepreneurs doing contract work behind enemy lines. However, you must understand the power and value of your collective unity.
Black NFL players must set aside their differences and move forward in the spirit of unity like never before. No single player, no matter how talented or popular he may be, wields more power and authority than a united front. Without Black talent, the NFL cannot survive. You are the chain on the bike. You must unite and do something in order to send a strong message to everyone that luminaries like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not die in vain. If you stand united against oppression and bigotry, then you send a message to our youth. If you fail to take a stand, you will still be sending a message to our youth. So, what message will you send?
Lastly, I am well aware that the vast majority of NFL players are employed by football teams in cities where they don’t have any direct roots, family or strong community ties. For decades, it has been the practice of these teams to keep its players disconnected from grassroots organizations and activists. Most players get locked into a world of dirty cleats, playbooks, two-a-day practices and fake banquets. They don’t mind you going to the parties, but don’t get caught at a rally for justice. As long as they can keep you disconnected from your people, they can isolate you and treat you as they wish, with no outcry from the communities that produced you. When an abusive man wants to continue abusing a woman, he must first isolate her from the family. What am I saying? No more can you allow anyone to isolate you from your family (your community). Let no one isolate you from your support system. That day is over! We are flesh of one another’s flesh; bone of one another’s bone. At the end of the day…”we all we got.”
As professional athletes, all of you know what it’s like to face adversity. The best of you know how to turn adversity into opportunity, while making a big play in the process.
Take the adverse climate that has been created, and use it as an opportunity to achieve greater unity amongst yourselves and your community. Get involved in the fight for freedom, justice and equality like never before. The best way to support Colin Kaepernick is to be found participating in the fight against the injustice that prompted him to take a knee in the first place.
Now, if you found this letter to be truthful please forward it to a fellow colleague. We look forward to even greater unity amongst you all, and most importantly, we look forward to stronger unity with you all in the various community efforts that will help make our neighborhoods a more decent place to live. May God bless you all to move according to the time and to what must be done. Our unity is our success. Thank you!