Letter to the Editor: I Support the Kneeling Defiance College Football Players

letter to the editor

Letter submitted to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News on November 13, 2017

Dear Editor,

I write to lend my support to the Defiance College football players who have knelt during the playing of the national anthem. I commend them for their courage, knowing that most local residents oppose their actions. Their continued protest has brought calls for discipline, including expulsion from school. I commend college administrators and coaches for not bowing to public pressure to silence protest. These students, along with their counterparts in professional sports, need to be heard. Their protests have nothing to do with respect for the military or flag.

What lies behind their kneeling is inequality, injustice, and racism. While these issues might seem to locals to be the problems of urban areas, the truth is that we denizens of rural Northwest Ohio have our own problems related to these things. I recently participated in a forum discussion on racism in Northwest Ohio. Having lived most of my sixty years of life in this area, I can say with great certainty that we are not immune from charges of racism and injustice. We may hide it better, covering it with white, middle-class Christian respectability, but it exists, nonetheless.

Years ago, my family and I walked into a church towards the end of the adult Sunday school class. Teaching the class was a matronly white woman — a pillar of the church. She was telling the class that her grandson was not getting playing time on the college football team because blacks got all the playing time. She reminded me of a retired white school teacher I knew when I lived in Southeast Ohio. At the time, we had a black foster daughter. I had just started a new church in the area, and we were looking for a house to rent. This school teacher had a house available, so we agreed to rent it. When it came time to pick up the keys, she told us she decided to rent to someone else. We later learned that she said she wasn’t going to have a ni***r living in her house.

These stories are apt reminders of what lies underneath our country respectability. It is time we quit wrapping ourselves in the flag, pretending that racism, inequality, and injustice doesn’t exist. Our flag and anthem represent many things, but for many Americans, they represent oppression and denial of human rights; and it is for these reasons, among others, that players kneel.

Bruce Gerencser

Ney, Ohio

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9 Comments

  1. Brian

    Well and hnestly expressed. In Canada we are now experiencing a time of reconciliation with our indigenous population. Whether this process aids in healing long, deep wounds, I do not finally know. Some are saying it does while others complain in a fashion similar to the white Sunday School teacher complaining of black kids getting all the playing time at football. I hear grumbling among Caucasian white men particularly, statements like, “We just pay out to these people, pay out anf pay out. Where does it end? I didn’t put anybody in residential schools so why do I have to keep paying?” Comments like this are not uncommon and demonstrate to me how very far we have yet to go.
    Your letter regarding the Defiance kneelers is very necessary and will no doubt bring you some local vitriol. Some will accuse you of denying the flag its due and will insist that free protest should be punished.

    Reply
  2. Dorothy Singer

    Bruce, this is a wonderful letter. Will you be sending it to the Crescent -News? I hope it will be read widely.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Dorothy, thank you. I sent it to to the Crescent-News. It should be published this week.

      Bruce

      Reply
  3. cy

    Nice letter, it’s a good combination of reasoning and personal experience.

    Hope it influences the good folks of northern Ohio!

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thanks, Cy,

      Reply
  4. Angiep

    Thank you once again for taking a public stand on an important issue.

    Reply
  5. dwilliam

    Good letter, honest and civil. We need more people to speak up like this, sharing different perspectives without insulting others. Having worked in the Defiance area, with family who live around there, your words ring true.

    Kneeling is the most respectful form of protest I can think of. These players deserve to have their reasons heard, not being mocked and threatened. I am grateful for their courage to make a controversial statement in a peaceful and responsible way. Similarly, I am grateful for people like you in the Defiance community who are willing to voice your support. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thank you for the kind words. My letter will not be well received by locals. No surprise. I read one discussion about this issue on Facebook (The Defiance Speaks group). Only one commenter supported the players. This saddens me, but doesn’t surprise me. I have lived in rural Ohio most of my life, so I know how things are. The good news is that local millennials seem more tolerant and progressive than their parents and grandparents. I remain cautiously hopeful.

      Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      By the way, I can be polemical, as regular readers will tell you. That said, on this issue, I hope we can have open, thoughtful discussions. I don’t necessarily think both sides have equally valid arguments, but we must find a way to have passionate political discourse without wanting to gut our opponent.

      Reply

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