The Martin Luther King Day video message delivered on NFL Network began with a celebration of the passion and strength of black men. However, before it was over, it accused Americans of viewing black athletes through racist stereotypes.
The video opens with several minutes of various NFL players saying that when they “look in the mirror” they see successful, strong, compassionate, and intelligent black men. But that is not all. They also see entertainers, athletes, lawyers, mayors, CEOs, and every manner of accomplished American.
During the segment on occupations, the images of successful black CEOs, mayors, first responders and the like flash across the screen as the NFL players speak.
Then the players ask a new question.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 18, 2021
“But what do you see, America? An entertainer, an athlete? What else do you see? A gangbanger, a drug dealer?
“Who says I can’t be those things? You, or society?” they angrily ask.
This is an odd question to ask since they just spent a minute showing pictures of black men who have, indeed, achieved lofty goals in what these players are trying to intimate is an irredeemably racist America.
Indeed, with blacks filling positions of leadership at every level of society, it doesn’t appear that anyone at all is saying black men can’t be successful. And it is doubly odd that this accusation is coming from the mouths of NFL players, men who have been made multimillionaires in the same America they are calling “racist.”