Colin Kaepernick’s Jersey Hangs in the Same Museum as ‘Starry Night’

by Priscilla Frank, HuffPost Black Voices

One of the most recent additions to the halls of New York’s Museum of Modern Art is a red San Francisco 49ers jersey. The same jersey worn by Colin Kaepernick between 2011 and 2016.

Kaepernick’s sports jersey hangs with four others featured in the ongoing MoMA exhibition “Items: Is Fashion Modern?”, which explores the impact of 111 carefully curated items of clothing and accessories on the 20th and 21st centuries.

The jersey is a unique item of clothing in that its uniform design conjures an almost immediate sense of power, promise and camaraderie. As MoMA curator Paola Antonelli and her curatorial team expressed in an email to HuffPost, “Children around the world look up to sports heroes as role models; for them, the jersey embodies a dream or aspiration.”

Kaepernick’s jersey, the San Francisco 49ers’ number seven, became the best-selling jersey in the NFL’s official shop website in 2016 and remains one of the top selling items to this day. The stats are especially noteworthy seeing as Kaepernick no longer plays for the 49ers, or any other NFL team at present. The popularity of the uniform, then, illuminates the quarterback’s status not only as a star athlete but a contemporary icon of civil rights.

Kaepernick first sat down during the national anthem ahead a preseason game in August 2016, lowering himself in silent protest of the racial injustice plaguing the nation. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told NFL Media of his decision. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

In September 2016, Kaepernick took a knee instead of a seat, and has continued to do so ever since. The protest has been an unremitting source of inspiration, controversy and debate since its inception. Just last month, President Donald Trump criticized the gesture, while public figures including fellow NFL players, Stevie Wonder and former CIA director John Brennan expressed their unwavering support for Kaepernick and his demonstration.

After the 2016 season came to a close, Kaepernick opted out of his 49ers contract and has been a free agent ever since. Nonetheless, his red jersey continues to sell in massive quantities, a testament to the influence Kaepernick holds off the field as well as on it. His jersey embodies so much of the ongoing political conversation in this country today ― what America stands for, and what it kneels for.

“We hope that visitors to ’Items will see in these sports jerseys not only the blood, sweat and tears of their original wearers but also the complex synthesis of aesthetics, personal choice, collective style, politics, business, race, gender, marketing, labor and technologythat are embodied by their reproductions,” Antonelli and her team wrote.

The other jerseys in the exhibition are Pelé’s 1958 FIFA World Cup Brazilian national soccer team jersey, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls basketball jersey and the Black Ferns women’s rugby national team jersey. Athletic gear aside, the MoMA show will also feature garments including a little black dress, a keffiyeh, a pearl necklace and Levi’s 501 jeans.

For the full article, read here.

For more information about the growth in recognition of black history in museums, read here.

For more ABHM Breaking News, read here.

Michael Bennett Has Earned Our Respect. It’s Time We Show It.

By Jordan Schultz, HuffPost Black Voices

Michael Bennett is one of the NFL’s good guys, explains columnist Jordan Schultz in his article for the Huffington Post.

Michael Zagaris via Getty Images

This is why it’s surprising to see how Bennett has drawn the ire of prominent sports journalists, including ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, as well as a local sports columnist. It’s unfair that his name was dragged through the mud. Bennett is a unique person and by all accounts a great person ― and he has done nothing wrong.

In an article published two weeks ago in The Seattle Times, Matt Calkins heavily criticized the Seattle Seahawks star defensive end for lashing out at a local TV reporter who was questioning him after a game. Calkins didn’t contact the TV reporter before publishing his column. If he had, he would have found out Bennett had privately apologized to him. Calkins penned an apology when he realized his mistake ― but the damage was done.

Bennett, who plays one of the league’s most violent positions, is one of its most gentle and caring people. The former undrafted free agent is a highly dedicated member of the community and one of the team’s most respected members.

In March, the 31-year-old Bennett announced that he would donate 100 percent of his endorsements to helping minority communities and empowering women of color. Additionally, he will also donate half of his jersey sales to inner-city garden projects.

Bennett’s honesty and conviction might scare people, but sports fans ― even those who disagree with his opinions ― should be promoting it. What matters is that Bennett doesn’t merely have an opinion, but he believes in it strongly enough to stand up for himself.

For more on Michael Bennett and his work within the community, read the full article here.

To learn about how race can negatively impact perception, and why its important for news media (including sports) to start supporting outspoken black influencers like Michael Bennett here.

Read about the crucial role that Black press has in our society here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Gabby Douglas Becomes First Black Gymnast to Win Individual Olympic Gold Medal


U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas acknowledges the audience after being declared winner of the gold medal

U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas acknowledges the audience after being declared winner of the gold medal

U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas made history on Aug. 2 becoming the first Black person of any nationality to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual gymnastic event, claiming her second gold medal of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.

Douglas won her first gold medal on July 31 as a member of the U.S. women’s gymnastics artistic all-around team event. It was the first individual gold medal for a USA gymnastics team member since 1996. Douglas now owns two gold medals after edging out Russian gymnast Viktoria Komova for first place in the women’s individual all-around event. She scored a 62.232, less than three-tenths of a point ahead of Komova’s score.
Douglas sealed the gold medal performance with a stellar floor routine as her U.S. teammates watched and cheered her on, chanting “Go Gabby!”

Douglas now surpasses Dominique Dawes, who won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. For 16 years, Dawes was the first and only Black gymnast to have won an Olympic gold medal, but even Dawes hadn’t won gold in an individual gymnastics event.

“[Dominique] was one of my inspirations and role models growing up,” said Douglas, who moved from her hometown in Virginia Beach, Va. two years ago to train in Des Moines, Iowa with her coach Liang Chow.

Read more of the story here.


Black Gymnast Is Top Olympic Contender

From the Washington Post

Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas

Today, with what the Associated Press calls “cover girl looks, a personality that leaps through the TV set and a nickname [the Flying Squirrel] you won’t soon forget,” 16-year-old gymnast Gabby Douglas — who’s expected to be chosen for this year’s Olympic team — might just follow in her footsteps as one of gymnastics’ next big stars, not to mention the black community’s next collective athletic crush.

Not only has Douglas emerged as world champion Jordyn Wieber’s main rival, finishing a mere 0.2 points behind at the U.S. gymnastics championships two weeks ago, she could be the brightest star on a powerful U.S. team that could turn the London Olympics into its own heavy medal show …

The U.S. team will be picked Sunday, following the Olympic trials in San Jose, Calif. Barring an injury, Douglas is considered a lock for London along with Wieber and Aly Raisman. In addition to the team competition and all-around, Douglas has medal potential on uneven bars, where her release moves are so big and effortless that national team coordinator Martha Karolyi has dubbed her the “Flying Squirrel.”

Read more of the story here.