Celebrities vs. the NFL


Tribune News Service

From left, The San Francisco 49ers’ Eli Harold (58), Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before their a game against the Dallas Cowboys on October 2, 2016, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

Fairley Lloyd, Contributing Writer

On October 18, Us Weekly reported that Rihanna turned down a performance at the Super Bowl LII Halftime Show in support of Colin Kaepernick. Later, Amy Schumer supported Rihanna’s decision via Instagram: “Posted by my friend @yamaneika wouldn’t it be so cool if @adamlevine and @maroon5 stepped down too?” Schumer wrote. “What do you guys think?”

This is one of the latest cases of celebrities taking a stance on the Kaepernick issue. Kaepernick gained controversy in 2016 when he kneeled during the National Anthem at a 49ers preseason game. Kaepernick said that he kneeled to protest racial discrimination and police brutality against African-Americans. Since then, Kaepernick has not played with the team and filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017.

Many have criticized Kaepernick’s stance, including President Donald Trump, who tweeted in 2017 that players protesting the anthem should be fired by the NFL. Others have rallied support behind Kaepernick. No matter the stance, however, the issue is extremely divisive amongst the public. 

I am glad Rihanna decided to support Kaepernick. The pushback Kaepernick has received has been nothing but racist backlash. According to a 2016 ESPN article, most of the fans disliking Kaepernick after his protest were white (approximately 37%); 42% of the African Americans polled said they liked him. This racial divide makes it clear that protests against Kaepernick are efforts to silence his protests against racial injustice. 

I am a bit more skeptical of Schumer’s comments. For one, there was her infamous incident with Odell Beckham in 2016. According to ET Online, Lena Dunham got into hot water when she complained that Beckham complained that he didn’t find her attractive. 

 “The vibe was very much like, ‘Do I want to f**k it?” 

 Schumer was quick to defend Dunham:

 “I think people definitely target Lena,” Schumer said. “I think everybody has room to learn more about other cultures and racism, what’s offensive and what’s not.”

 The least she could do was consider it being racist, especially since she is not black. I know it’s uncomfortable realizing you may have prejudices, but the truth is, everyone does. Ignoring prejudices just make them worse. I haven’t heard from Schumer in a while, though, so things may have changed. 

 But, the overall effect of celebrities voicing support for Kaepernick is positive. Celebrities’ words carry a lot of weight, so the fact that Rihanna and Schumer are using their voices to take a political stance is going to make a movement. That’s how Taylor Swift got so many young people to register to vote.

It is true that celebrities have to be careful what they say because they have so much influence. It’s an inherent privilege you have as a celebrity. Thankfully, people like Rihanna realize that and use their platform to bring attention to social issues. I can’t help but applaud that.