For over a year now, NFL players have been using their platform to speak out against police brutality and social injustice. The most recognizable of these, of course, is Colin Kaepernick, who has been blatantly blacklisted from the organization as a result. 

Now that a new season has started, even more NFL players are joining in the movement to kneel during the National Anthem. While most of them are Black, we’ve started to see a handful of their white teammates join them. Seth DeValve became the first one to actually kneel alongside 11 of his teammates this past Sunday. As expected, many immediately applauded DeValve’s actions but some took it a step further when they discovered that he’s married to a Black woman.

“I myself will be raising children that don’t look like me, and I want to do my part as well to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment than we have right now,” he said when asked about his motivations.

Erica Harris DeValve, the Brown’s tight end’s wife, recently published an article on The Root warning the public to avoid putting him into the “white savior” box they’re prone to doing. She also explained that she shouldn’t be cited as his reason for joining the protest when it was actually something he – and other white players – should do regardless of who they’re married to.

“On Monday night, I walked into FirstEnergy Stadium having absolutely no clue what was going to happen during the national anthem,” Devalve wrote. “When it began, I saw a group of Browns players kneeling and was proud. A few moments later, I noticed that No. 87—my husband, Seth—was among them, and I was even prouder.”

“We should not see Seth’s participation as legitimizing this movement. Rather, he chose to be an ally of his black teammates. To center the focus of Monday’s demonstration solely on Seth is to distract from what our real focus should be: listening to the experiences and the voices of the black people who are using their platforms to continue to bring the issue of racism in the U.S. to the forefront. ”

The entire piece is well-worth the read as it examines the role of ally-ship and the bad habit of looking to outside approval to legitimize social movement.

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