Kudos, UA Women’s Basketball Team

Kudos, UA Women’s Basketball Team
Screenshot of KARK 4 Broadcast Six players on the Razorback women’s basketball team knelt during the National Anthem before their game, Nov. 3. A controversial aftermath followed on fan’s social media accounts.

Screenshot of KARK 4 Broadcast
Six players on the Razorback women’s basketball team knelt during the National Anthem before their game, Nov. 3. A controversial aftermath followed on fan’s social media accounts.

I want to speak to the six women of the Women’s Razorback Basketball team who knelt during the national anthem before their game on Nov. 3. On behalf of The Free Weekly, I want to say we see you, we hear you, and we support you and your cause.

I’m proud of Athletic Director Jeff Long for his eloquence and poise in the matter, considering his position at a University in a conservative state. In his statement, he defended the athletes by saying “In this country, we value everyone’s right to voice their opinions and views… We respect the rights of our student-athletes and all individuals to express themselves on important issues in our nation.” Kudos to Head Coach Jimmy Dykes for his understanding and support for his players, too.

I am fully aware of the controversy surrounding these protests, as we all must be. I have delved into the dredges of black tar that is the 40/29 and KARK4 Facebook comment sections many a time this year during some of the worst events from 2016. I’ve even clicked to “see more comments” and followed the chain to the end of the thread where the three dots of someone else on the other end of the Internet was furiously typing away a rebuttal to a shit-tier level argument by that point. I’ve seen both sides through and through.

Those who are hurt and angry by the actions by these women speak about how they feel these women are disrespecting our country, its people, and most of all, its men and women of service who have died defending it.

I respectfully disagree to that notion, and that is why I support these six women.

Peaceful protests such as the kind demonstrated by our women’s basketball team are exactly the things our fallen soldiers fought and died for and what our country is at its very core. In a sense, these women are demonstrating their respect for this country and its service men and women with their actions. To be American is to be critical of government.

The alternative would be forcing citizens to stand and pledge allegiance. Last time I checked, that’s a fascist totalitarian government. What would that make us? North Korea?

Many have made the claim the women are simply just attention-seekers. They aren’t entirely wrong. These women, and the dozens of athletes throughout the United States, aim to bring attention to the fact that an alarming amount of unarmed people of color are unjustly being shot down or beaten to near-death.

Evidence backs it up. African-Americans are 30 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over by police, as well as three times more likely to be searched, twice as likely to be arrested and twice as likely to be shot by a law enforcement officer, according to data from the Bureau of Justice. African-Americans constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population and are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites, according to the NAACP.

During a press conference for the Arkansas women’s basketball team, sophomore guard Jordan Danberry explained their motivations behind kneeling during the National Anthem.

“We didn’t mean any disrespect by it, we just feel like a lot of things in society needs to change and one thing is police brutality,” Danberry said. “It’s just black people, people of color are being attacked and we just want to speak out and make a difference. We’re able to do that and that’s what we’re doing. No disrespect to any of our fans, we love you guys and we pray you keep supporting us.”

It’s not as if these protests are loud, disruptive or profane. A quiet kneeling is all that’s going on, and it’s a reverent peaceful protest.

The backlash from this has left me baffled. Critics are calling for Jeff Long to be fired, for the women to be benched for their opinions — and what’s worse — our own state officials have called them out and threatened to cut UA budgets.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has even involved himself in this. He retweeted Arkansas Sen. Jim Hendren, who tweeted at the team a picture of soldiers in caskets along with the tweet:

“Ladies, here is why you have freedom to behave so disrespectfully #ungrateful #WhyWeStand.”

Rep. Laurie Rushing replied with the tweet:

“I just might take a knee on UA funding.”

To which everyone’s favorite senator Jason Rapert jumped in, tweeting:

“Perhaps we should reconsider the UofA budget since some in leadership don’t get it.”

The fact our representatives would get so emphatically angry about this and make rash judgments to cut the budget of the University in a public forum is absurd, but sadly nothing unprecedented. These are the people we’ve elected to represent us. I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised, as evidenced by the reactions going on in heated comment sections throughout the web — they are representing us.

If this column offends you, that’s unfortunate. Say what you will, but it won’t change the importance these women are trying to bring to everyone’s attention. Unarmed people, especially African-Americans, are out there wrongfully dying from the authorities who we entrust to protect us. Regardless of your politics, that is wrong, and it’s our government’s job to better serve liberty and justice for all of its people.

Thanks for reading.

Categories: Commentary