When San Francisco 49ers (starting!) quarterback Colin Kaepernick began his protest of the national anthem back in August, I questioned if Black singers would engage in a protest of their own and decline the invitation to sing the national anthem at sporting events. Now, it’s been nearly two months since Kaepernick initially sat during the national anthem, and to my knowledge, no singer has rejected the opportunity to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner”, yet. However, the recent gesture of singer Leah Tysse may initiate a new wave of protests.
Monday evening at the Sacrament Kings game, Tysse led the crowd in singing the national anthem. However, it’s how she ended her rendition that has people talking. Tysse, who is white, took a knee during the lyrics, “the land of the free, and the home of the brave,” while the team stood together and locked arms.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 11, 2016
Tysse isn’t the first white woman to support the Kaepernick-led protest. US women’s national soccer team player Meghan Rapinoe, and many WNBA players, are among the most notable to insert themselves into this national firestorm. As expected, Tysse, a breast cancer survivor, received both positive and negative reactions for her demonstration, and used her growing platform to explain her choice to take a knee in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, Black Lives Matter, and any marginalized community of people who has suffered grave injustices by law enforcement or our criminal justice system. Tysse’s short explanation: white privilege. In a message posted to her Facebook page, Tysse, in part, wrote:
The sad reality is, as a white American I am bestowed a certain privilege in this nation that is not enjoyed by all people. Black families are having much different conversations with their children about how to interact with the police than white families. Let’s be honest. Until we can recognize that white privilege exists we cannot have a dialogue about race. 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.
Yes! Shoutout to our white allies who are aware of their white privilege and the advantages attached to it. To those who aren’t ashamed to expose themselves in an effort to inform others. While everyone won’t be receptive to the message, remaining committed to the broader goal of spreading awareness is a journey worth exploring, despite the ensuing backlash associated with it. I salute and honor Tysse for sacrificing her moment, in recognition of a purpose greater than all of us.
For Tysse’s full statement, go here.