San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has people all over the country believing in the power of taking a knee, but on HBCU campuses nationwide, it has been our female athletes who have used sports as a platform for statement.
Like most HBCU trends that go viral, Howard University cheerleaders kicked it off.
Athletes across the country have been sitting or kneeling during the national anthem in recent weeks to protest police brutality and racism.
Clark Atlanta’s women’s volleyball produced a video explaining the motivation for their recent protest.
It is not to say that men have not taken advantage of the opportunity. Texas Southern and Mississippi Valley State football players seized the moment.
MVSU and #TxSU players kneeling during #NationalAnthem before Saturday’s game #ColinKaepernick #HBCU #HBCUsMatter
And players from many other teams have individually raised awareness for black equality by kneeling during the national anthem, along with fans and supporters who raise fists or remain seated in the stands.
But when it comes to an entire team making the statement, it’s been our women out in front with total buy in. And that’s not unusual; WNBA players have outpaced the NFL when it comes to the number of athletes making public statements about inequity, which is really hard to do given that the NFL has 1,696 players, and the WNBA just 144.
Two months ago Crystal A. deGregory, PhD asked in this space why black men weren’t caping for sisters. Since then, women’s teams have made the question even more valid in the protest of mostly black men being killed in the streets.
HBCU culture often reinforces patriarchy and male privilege. Thankfully, glass ceilings may be a fading thought in HBCU leadership. Today, 19 women lead historically black college and university campuses. Women have served honorably as heads of student government, generating regional and national recognition for initiatives aimed at improving campus life, and life beyond their borders for voting rights advocacy, and positive promotion of the HBCU experience.
Everyone has a choice in achieving a personal balance of protest and patriotism. But how come our women, who have an entire life of out-of-this-world balancing in life and profession ahead of them, are collectively beating us on the field on the critical issues of our time?