Penn State CB Lamont Wade weighs in on National Anthem protests, what it’s like to be Black in America
‘How American can you be to deny our constitutional right?’
On Sunday, Penn State football player Lamont Wade published a video on Youtube begging the question: "Who's really disrespecting the flag?"
Lamont's video was created in response to President Trump's recent comments on NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem, suggesting they should be fired.
"Wouldn't you love…to say 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired,'" President Trump said in a press conference.
Lamont directly addresses Trump and other critics of players that kneel during the anthem, specifically the idea that these players are being disrespectful towards the flag and the United States.
"Can we focus on what the flag actually represents?" he asks. "It signifies purity and innocence. Innocence…like Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Philando Castile. I can go on for hours."
In a powerful statement, Lamont describes what it is like to grow up Black. "Being called a nigger for no reason; getting abused, hosed, tormented, for peacefully protesting," he says. "Being scared to death at a routine traffic stop, standing on a corner, or walking around the street in your own neighborhood just because of how you look.
Lamont also draws upon the First Amendment, citing the Constitutional right to freedom of speech in response to Trump's attempts to ban protests during NFL games. "The head of our government is completely oblivious to the First Amendment of our Constitution, what makes our country so great…I guess it just doesn't matter to him."
Lamont uses the video to refocus the conversation surrounding the NFL protests on Colin Kaepernick's original intended message: to speak out against police violence. "Police are supposed to serve and protect you," he said. "The police are the ones we are supposed to feel safe around, why are we losing our lives at the hands of policemen?"
"So again, I ask you, who's really disrespecting the flag?" Lamont concludes his message by bringing his question full circle. "The men taking a knee to shed a light on the people who are actually violators of everything the flag signifies, stands for and represents?"
Head Coach James Franklin came out in support of Lamont's message, saying that he was "proud of him because he spent time thinking about what's on his heart and what's on his mind…being thoughtful and being articulate."
"To me, that's what college athletics is all about, that's what Penn State's all about, that's what our country is supposed to be all about," he added.
In 2016, former 49ers player Colin Kaepernick began sitting down when the National Anthem came on in protest of police brutality and in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. He later started to kneel instead.
After several games, his protest gained significant media attention, as well as backlash from those who found his refusal to stand during the anthem disrespectful.
Teammate Eric Reid joined Kaepernick in protest and described the action of kneeling in his 2017 New York Times piece as something he felt was a "peaceful gesture" and that he remembered "thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy."
You can watch Lamont's video here: