Cleveland Browns’ Seth DeValve made headlines this week when he became the first white NFL player to kneel during the national anthem.
But his wife, Erica Harris DeValve — who is Black — is reminding the world not to put him on a pedestal despite her pride in his actions.
“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,” she wrote in an op-ed for Very Smart Brothas.
“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.,” she added. “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.”
DeValve knelt in prayer with 11 teammates during the anthem before a preseason game, saying that he did it for his future children.
“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.
His move comes a year after Kaepernick first started doing the same thing to bring attention to police violence against black lives, and amidst a current surge of NFL players who are also taking up the protest.
Erica says she didn’t pressure Seth into kneeling, and she did not even know that was his plan. She believes that he would have knelt whether or not he was married to a black woman. But despite her pride, there was still a larger message:
“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.”
We could not have said it better.