When a large number of Cleveland Browns players took a knee during the national anthem on Monday night, tight end Seth DeValve was one player who stood out.
DeValve is white. He’s the first white NFL player to kneel for the national anthem since Colin Kaepernick started his protest. DeValve said afterward the team was taking “the opportunity pray for our country. There was another part of it for DeValve, whose wife is black.
“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,” DeValve said.
Erica Harris DeValve wrote a powerful piece for the Very Smart Brothas site in which she said she was proud of Seth taking a knee on Monday night, but wanted to clear some things up.
First, she didn’t pressure Seth into kneeling; she wrote she didn’t even know Seth was going to kneel until he did it. She also said he didn’t do so just because she is black, but because he understands it’s the right thing to do. She said she believes he would have kneeled even if his wife was white.
She was proud of her husband for taking a knee, but she also didn’t want it to obscure the larger message. She wrote: “I would like to push back against some of the attention he’s been getting that portrays him as some sort of white savior to a movement.”
“I am grateful for the widespread support and praise that Seth is getting for his actions, but I would like to offer a humble reminder that a man—a black man—literally lost his job for taking a knee, week after week, on his own. Colin Kaepernick bravely took a step and began a movement throughout the NFL, and he suffered a ridiculous amount of hate and threats and ultimately lost his life’s work in the sport he loves.
“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. Seth, as a white individual, never has and never will truly have to feel the weight and burden of racial discrimination and racial oppression. No white person does or will. But all white people should care and take a stand against its prevalence in this country.”
That’s a strong message, especially for Erica Harris DeValve to make so publicly about her husband. Erica Harris DeValve’s story is one that delves into a lot of different angles about the entire anthem protest story, including racism in general and how Colin Kaepernick’s protest last year should be seen as “real patriotism.” The entire post is well worth the read. You have to assume everything, from Seth’s kneeling to Erica’s public response, has been thought through: Seth and Erica both graduated from Princeton.
DeValve is now a part of the story of the anthem protests, which has dominated the NFL conversation. His wife just didn’t want people to forget about the bigger picture.
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