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  September 25, 2017

Kendrick Sampson on the Weekend's Historic NFL Protests

Actor, activist and TRNN board member Kendrick Sampson explains why he supports former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's growing protests against police brutality and inequality
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Jaisal Noor: NFL players, coaches, and owners sat out, knelt, and linked arms during pre-game national anthems played across the country and in London on Sunday. After a weekend of tweets by President Donald Trump criticizing protesting players.

Donald Trump: He's fired.

Jaisal Noor: We got a response from actor/activist and TRNN board member Kendrick Sampson.

Kendrick Sampson: He continues to abuse his office, which is the first thing, and promote violence. And he not only talked about Colin Kaepernick without naming him but he also spoke out against penalties that protect players, and you know he continues to incite violence, with violent rhetoric and with insisting people hurt other people. It took him forever to come out against white supremacy and neo-Nazis but it took him ... he was quick to talk about someone being fired for using their First Amendment rights.

Jaisal Noor: The day's first show of protests started in London, where more than a dozen members of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens took a knee for the Star-Spangled Banner. Other team members locked arms in unity. Once games began stateside, players from the New Orleans Saints to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and more choosing to either take a knee, sit, link arms, or a combination of the gestures. Before kickoff, Trump renewed his call to fire or suspend players for what he said was disrespecting the flag and country and said the league should back the U.S. The protests began last year when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem over police treatment of African Americans and other minorities.

Kendrick Sampson: He enlightened me and opened my eyes when I did my research and the thing is I didn't even have to think about it much because we know the history of Francis Scott Key. We know what the history of the War of 1812, we know that that poem was not written for people of color. It was not written to represent people of color.

Jaisal Noor: Because Francis Scott Key was a slave owner, he was a lawyer that worked to keep people enslaved.

Kendrick Sampson: Exactly.

Jaisal Noor: And there's a whole verse, the third verse ... the forgotten verse of the Star-Spangled Banner is about keeping slaves enslaved.

Kendrick Sampson: Yeah, it's a microcosmic example of what America does as a whole to sanitize its history. It's like, "Oh, the third stanza's not there anymore. Now we can sing it all because it represents all of us." No, it actually was very derogatory and violent towards my ancestors.

Donald Trump: We're proud of our country. We respect our flag.

Jaisal Noor: Trump jumped into the feud on Friday when at a rally said, "Those players should be out of a job."

Donald Trump: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say, "Get that son of a [bleep] off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired."

Jaisal Noor: Trump is also called for a boycott of teams which don't punish protesting players, but as seen on and off the field on Sunday NFL owners, coaches, and players--including Trump friend and New England Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft--largely united against Trump's comments. Again, Kendrick Sampson.

Jaisal Noor People have called for a boycott of the NFL in response to this until Colin Kaepernick gets a job. He's way more qualified than seems like half the players, half the starting quarterbacks on rosters right now.

Kendrick Sampson: More than half, more than half, yeah.

Jaisal Noor: Do you support a boycott right now or what do you think is a good action for concerned people to take right now?

Kendrick Sampson: I've been boycotting it for a few weeks so I support it.

Jaisal Noor: Okay.

Kendrick Sampson: I think that he has done enough to ... especially for people of color and all of our ... the thing that people don't realize is white supremacy only protects the elite few. It does not protect white people in general. It only protects the elite few that are in power and that want to hold that power, right? So they utilize this anger and this fear to suppress and oppress our voices, people of color. They don't even realize that they're liberty is intertwined with ours. That they are oppressed as well with medical and everything else, economic freedom. I think that someone who is standing up for oppressed people and has been there for us, we need to be there for him. You know, he's putting a lot more on the line than a lot of people and we shouldn't be afraid to give up our few minutes of entertainment or find some other entertainment. Find some better entertainment for the time being, one that is not oppressive towards people. One that does not have a bunch of owners that say that they are not gonna keep one of the most talented quarterbacks in the nation on a roster because he is standing up for equality, for people that are oppressed. You know?

Jaisal Noor: And he's certainly in a long line of activists and sports ...

Kendrick Sampson: Muhammad Ali, yeah.

Jaisal Noor: That have been singled out and blacklisted-

Kendrick Sampson: Absolutely.

Jaisal Noor: -because of their political stances.

Kendrick Sampson: Absolutely.

Jaisal Noor: So he's following this rich tradition of people that have this privilege, this microphone to really use it and challenge power. So he's certainly not the first and he's not gonna be the last.

Kendrick Sampson: No, and he's doing it well. I mean I'm gonna completely butcher the quote but I know Muhammad Ali was saying if he makes all these millions and then goes home and enjoys it and lives this lavish lifestyle and does not speak out for people then he's done it for nothing. I was actually speaking to this beautiful woman who's an actress, Yvette Nicole Brown, and you know, I was kind of depressed and feeling down with all this stuff that's happening with Houston, my family in Houston and the Bahamas and Puerto Rico now and Mexico. In speaking out against injustices and what's going on in the White House, it becomes very depressing and it tires you out. Your energy gets depleted with all of this stuff and the one thing that invigorated me she told me in this conversation we were having during the Emmys.

She posted that video of Muhammad Ali and she was like, "Listen, here's the thing. Your entire life, what's the value of a life? If you speaking out and missing out on money and doing all that stuff saves one life, just one, it's worth it." My goal is to save one. If I can save more than that then great but if I ... missing out on money and missing out on opportunities and facing Twitter trolls and all kinds of stuff, and depression some days, and things of that because of the activism and because of speaking out for people who are being oppressed in our communities, and I save one life? Then it's worth it. That's how much a life is worth to me.

Jaisal Noor: It's gonna take a lot of people doing small acts to make a difference.

Kendrick Sampson: Exactly.

Jaisal Noor: We appreciate it.

Kendrick Sampson: Absolutely.

Jaisal Noor: Thank you so much for joining us.

Kendrick Sampson: Absolutely.


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