There's a Reason This NFL Team's Season Opener Could Get Interesting This Weekend

September 8th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick's controversial protest of the national anthem has inspired some individual athletes to join him on the professional and student levels. Three players on the University of West Virginia women's volleyball team followed Kaepernick's lead and knelt during the national anthem, but there was a clear racial divide: only black players protested.

However, NFL fans could soon see an entire team show solidarity with the San Francisco 49er's quarterback for the first time.

Colin Kaepernick attempts a pass.

The team that could join Kaepernick in protesting the national anthem on the anniversary of 9/11 isn't his own: it's the Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle cornerback Jeremy Lane has been the lone member of his team sitting in solidarity with Kaepernick during the national anthem to protest police brutality. However, linebacker Bobby Wagner's comments Wednesday suggest that the team may join Lane at their first regular season game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

"Anything we want to do, it’s not going to be individual. It’s going to be a team thing," said Wagner at a press conference, according to the Seattle Times. "That’s what the world needs to see. The world needs to see people coming together versus being individuals.”

Wagner, who is black, highlighted the importance of both black and white players being involved in the conversation about race and the methods of protesting racial inequality.

“I enjoy having conversations because we’re fortunate enough to have black people, white people, all type of people in this locker room. You get to see different backgrounds, different journeys. I think that’s what separates the NFL because they’re so many different cultures in here that you get to learn from, that you get to experience that people from the outside don’t get to experience. We don’t live in a box. We understand that there’s different type of views, different type of actions, and we have an open mind to listen to them.”

Earlier this week world cup-winning U.S. women's soccer player Megan Rapinoe also made the point that white people should be involved in conversations about racial inequality.

"Megan Rapinoe playing for the US Women's National Team in San Jose, California on 10 May 2015."

When her Seattle Reign team played the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday in the National Women's Soccer League, Rapinoe took a knee to show solidarity with Kaepernick.

At a press conference after the game, Rapinoe said that as a gay woman she understands what it's like for the U.S. flag to fall short of its promises for all its citizens.

"We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country. Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.”

Although she didn't use the term, Rapinoe is describing intersectionality.

The term was first coined in a 1989 paper by Kimberlé Crenshaw, who is now a law professor at Columbia University and the executive director of the African American Policy Forum, according to The Washington Post. It's a term used to describe how different forms of discrimination overlap, like Rapinoe standing up against the oppression of black people because she recognizes it ties to the oppression of LGBT people.

Last year Crenshaw wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post describing how the term envelopes many groups who are discriminated against in the U.S.

"Originally articulated on behalf of black women, the term brought to light the invisibility of many constituents within groups that claim them as members, but often fail to represent them. Intersectional erasures are not exclusive to black women. People of color within LGBTQ movements; girls of color in the fight against the school-to-prison pipeline; women within immigration movements; trans women within feminist movements; and people with disabilities fighting police abuse — all face vulnerabilities that reflect the intersections of racism, sexism, class oppression, transphobia, able-ism and more. Intersectionality has given many advocates a way to frame their circumstances and to fight for their visibility and inclusion."

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