The people who angrily demand that politics be kept out of sports, that attack Colin Kaepernick’s protest as “un-American,” are the same people who would have stood against the civil rights movement, or would have protested Jackie Robinson’s historic challenge to the status quo. They’re standing on the wrong side of history.
In a move sure to anger modern day racists, the New Yorker just released a new cover telling it like it is. The cover shows Martin Luther King, Jr. kneeling next to Colin Kaepernick in his San Francisco 49ers uniform, with Michael Bennett in his Seattle Seahawks uniform on the other side. You can see the cover below:
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) January 8, 2018
In a statement on the New Yorker’s website, the art editor, Francois Mauly, explains the decision to use Mark Ulriksen’s “In Creative Battle” for the cover:
‘I asked myself, What would King be doing if he were around today?” the San Francisco-based artist Mark Ulriksen says, about the civil-rights leader, the inspiration for this week’s cover. (The cover’s title draws from Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, in which he spoke of a “creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice.”) “This is 49er country, and my mom and I have been going back and forth—she’s upset that players have brought politics into sports, but I say, How would you feel if you had to show up at work every day and salute a country that treats black people like second-class citizens? I’m glad that Colin Kaepernick and Michael Bennett are making it political. I’m sure that if King were around today, he’d be disappointed at the slow pace of progress: two steps forward, twenty steps back. Or ten yards back, as the metaphor may be.’
If he were alive today, Martin Luther King Jr. would almost certainly be on the side of black athletes. As continued injustices continue against black Americans, who are treated like second class citizens by our police and politics, those who speak out continue to be attacked. MLK understood that the fight for racial equality was going to be long and arduous.
People on Twitter seemed mostly supportive of the cover, with some exceptions:
The truth is that Colin Kaepernick will be applauded in history books for his decision to speak truth to power. He cared more about the people of our nation and creating a fair and equal society than he did his own career. His self-sacrifice in the name of racial justice was honorable, and deeply American. This is a nation founded on protest and equality—men like Donald Trump will never understand that. Being born on third base and thinking you’ve hit a triple makes it almost impossible to understand and respect the struggles of others.
Those who stand in opposition to black athletes using their platform to call attention to police brutality and racial injustice are standing on the wrong side of history. That’s the point of this cover, and it’s spot on.
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images