Charlotte, NC — On October 7th, Eric Reid addressed the media after he tallied three tackles in the Carolina Panthers 33-31 win over the New York Giants at Bank of America Stadium. However, the thirty or so media members swarmed his locker post game to talk about two things: Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick.

In case you missed it, then-San Francisco 49ers starting Quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat during the Star-Spangled Banner August 27, 2016 in a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. On September 1, 2016, Colin took a knee. Reid believed kneeling was a sign of respect for a fallen or injured teammate.

While this column will not recount the blow-by-blow of what happened with Colin Kaepernick, Reid knelt side-by-side with Kaepernick. When Colin was released following the end of the 2016 season, Reid continued to fight for racial justice and social equality.

The moment Reid stood in the locker room after that Panthers victory, he disagreed with the manner which Brett Kavanaugh got shoved into the United States Supreme Court.

“This morning, I found out that the officer who killed Tamir Rice was rehired. I feel that’s unacceptable,” Reid said October 7th. “Kavanaugh was voted into the Supreme Court. That’s unacceptable. I feel our country is moving backwards. The only way to change that is to keep talking about it, keep raising awareness [and] keep doing what we’re doing.

“Everybody in this [locker room], everybody who watches this game [and] everybody in this country knows what we’re talking about. It’s the truth. You can’t deny it. We’ve just got to do more to make this better,” Reid continued. “People who don’t want things to change, people who want to maintain the status quo … they have to subvert. They have to distract. They have to redirect from what we’re trying to accomplish. We have to stay strong. We have to stay diligent.”

If Reid’s quote is used as a mirror and held against the current political climate in Georgia, Reid is correct. The current political environment features the documented moments of voter suppression and the 53,000 voter registration applications currently in limbo at the desk of Secretary of State (and Republican gubernatorial candidate) Brian Kemp, that is one of many reasons African-Americans protest. The fear of voter intimidation on Election Day toward Blacks is the reason why the idea of early voting (which once was generally thought as an event reserved for senior citizens and mostly conservative people) is a viable option for African-Americans in Georgia looking to side-step the potential problems at polling locations on Election Day.

In addition, many believe the accusations of voter suppression are a method from the few to silence the groans, pain and displeasure of the majority.

What Kaepernick and Reid have done was awaken the consciousness of many younger African-Americans who previously were not engaged with the intricacies of covert and systemic racism and their impacts. President Trump insists NFL owners should fire players who refuse to stand for the flag. However, Kaepernick and Reid picked up the flag established by Dr. Harry Edwards at San Jose State University and famously flown by Tommie Smith and John Carlos fifty years ago at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

“Everybody got uptight about the fists, just like this young man Kaepernick,” Carlos said Wednesday to the San Jose Mercury. “Somebody put a spin on that — he is anti-flag, he is anti-military. That is far from the truth.”

In the NBA, San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich has spoken with excellent candor about the direction of America. The defending back-to-back champions Golden State Warriors refused to visit the Trump White House while speaking out on society’s issues caused (or inflamed) by President Trump’s rhetoric. Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr also spoke candidly about the state of Trump’s America while supporting Bay Area non-profit organizations that embrace diversity and inclusion. Even the face of the Warriors, Stephen Curry has praised the Panthers for signing Reid.

“[Carolina Panthers Owner] Dave Tepper is making a statement that he’s aware of what’s going on but understands there’s a way for a player like that, with a voice and a stance, to be a part of the organization,” Curry said to NBC Sports Bay Area. “He signed him, and you notice (Reid) started the first game. That answers the nonsense around trying to ban players from being a part of the NFL if they want to speak out on something. It says a lot about his ownership. I’m definitely happy it was my team.”

As the Election draws ever closer, simply do not pay attention to the t-shirts, the fists and the kneeling. Listen to what Reid, Curry, LeBron James and others are saying. They are making nuanced, thought out statements. Their stages are too big only for them to “stick to sports.”

A popular rap song by Atlanta native Lil Yachty asks, “Who want the smoke?” The answer is anyone who goes against Reid and his movement.

Eric Reid of the Carolina Panthers warms up for his game against the New York Giants Sunday, October 7, 2018 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...

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