Eagles players, Sept. 2017, Photo: Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Philadelphia Eagles) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Eagles players, Sept. 2017, Photo: Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Philadelphia Eagles)

A visit to the White House has been a long tradition for teams fresh off a Super Bowl victory. But for a second consecutive year, some players are saying they will reject their invitation to the Oval Office because of President Trump’s racist and bigoted remarks towards Black people in general and in particular towards players protesting the racism and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem. This does not come as a surprise since the invigorating effect Colin Kaepernick had on the league from 2016 to present time. The players rejecting the visit to the White House are also following the footsteps of Colin Kaepernick by doing community work.

Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receiver Torrey Smith said “For me, it’s not just about politics. If I told you that I was invited to a party by an individual I believe is sexist or has no respect for women or I told you that this individual has said offensive things towards many minority groups… this individual also called my peers and friends SOBs, you would understand why I wouldn’t want to go to that party. Why is it any different when the person has title of President of the United States?” (The Nation). Torrey Smith, Safety Malcolm Jenkins, and Defensive End Chris Long are among the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles players who will decline their invitation to the White House if President Donald Trump offers one.

Smith and Jenkins were among the four NFL players who sent a memo to the Commissioner of the National Football League Roger Goodell in September asking the league to play a role in activism for racial equality and criminal justice reform. In addition, Chris Long, a Charlottesville native, among the players not going to the White House, spent this year donating his paychecks to fund social-justice scholarships in Charlottesville following last August’s Nazi march. Long listed questions he’d ask Trump: “Who were the fine people on the side of the Nazis and KKK that gathered in my hometown the day a terrorist put 20 people in the hospital? Why reference the hatred and bigotry on ‘many sides that day?’ Why didn’t you immediately denounce them?” Later added, “I already know the answer. None of that is political. I’m not interested in a dialogue with someone who I have to ask those questions of.”

The discussion about racism in the United States has not only intensified in our own communities and workplace, but it has reached a critical mass in the sports world. We are now seeing more and more athletes take a stand about the killings of unarmed African Americans and attacks on poor and working class communities. Last year, about two dozen players from the New England Patriots skipped the White House visit. Community organizers and activist are credited with the players’ awareness and their activism. If it wasn’t for the thousands of people who took the streets across the country when Trayvon Martin was murdered, or Freddie Gray or Sandra Bland – our awareness of police brutality wouldn’t be at this point. These players are among millions of people in this country who are tired of injustice, racism and poverty. They are doing what many have been doing for decades – that is to protest and stand up for what is right. We have to continue to fight back against racist police brutality and Trump’s agenda.