Black columnist for ESPN Magazine Howard Bryant is calling police officers and soldiers singing the National Anthem at sporting events "staged patriotism" that silences the voices of black athletes.
According to The Washington Times, Bryant's column will appear in the upcoming June issue, where he states that the 9/11 attacks created a false "hero narrative" which makes policing look "clean, heroic, uncomplicated."
When ballparks host "Law Enforcement Appreciation Nights," Bryant says that sends a "clear message: The sentiments of the poor in Ferguson and Cleveland do not matter."
Bryant himself has faced arrest before. Once in 2011, when he was charged with spousal abuse, battery on an officer and resisting arrest. He never lost his job at ESPN, which gave him the opportunity to complain in a 2013 column about the military presence at games. He explained his disgust at the "decidedly, often uncomfortably, nationalistic" tone set by flyovers and soldiers singing the anthem. Or in his 2015 column in which he chided the Chicago Blackhawks for daring to wear camouflaged uniforms for Veterans Day because that clearly represented the "systematic removal of native tribes at the hands of the U.S. Army."
Here is a preview of what Bryant has to say in his upcoming column:
Following the marketing strategy of the military, police advocacy organizations have partnered with teams from all four major leagues to host ‘Law Enforcement Appreciation’ nights, or similar events.
Nobody seems to care much about this authoritarian shift at the ballpark, yet the media and the public are quick to demand accountability from players they consider insufficiently activist. They blame these black players for not speaking up on behalf of their communities, ignoring the smothering effect that staged patriotism and cops singing the national anthem in a time of Ferguson have on player expression.
Since 9/11, America has conflated the armed forces with first responders, creating a mishmash of anthem-singing cops and surprise homecomings in a time of Ferguson and militarized police.