#BoycottNFL trends as Twitter users clash over league's plans to perform Black national anthem on Week 1
Reports about the performance of the Black national anthem by the NFL is not making people happy. This could be observed by the hashtag #BoycottNFL trending on Twitter on Friday, July 3.
On July 2, it was widely reported that the National Football League planned to have the song ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’, commonly known as the Black national anthem, performed live or played before every game in Week 1 of the NFL season.
According to reports, ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ would be played before ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, and this would begin with the nationally televised first game of the season, scheduled for September 10. The song also will be played during the full slate of those Week 1 Sunday afternoon games, during Sunday Night Football, and during the two ESPN Monday night games.
‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ was first written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson. Johnson's brother John Rosamond Johnson set the poem to music in 1899. It was first performed in 1900 by a choir at the segregated Stanton School in Jacksonville, Florida as part of a celebration of former President Abraham Lincoln's birthday.
The decision to perform the Black national anthem comes at a tricky time. In the aftermath of George Floyd's death, Black Lives Matter protests have popped up across the nation. The conversation around systemic racism in the US has never been this strong. And in the midst of this conversation has also been the topic of renaming and getting rid of icons that have to do with the Confederates.
Naturally, this movement has been met with stiff opposition from the right-wing. Such was also the case with the Black national anthem. On Twitter, Lebanese-American conservative author Brigitte Gabriel wrote, “The NFL needs fans more than we need the NFL. If they kneel during the anthem or play anything other than the actual National Anthem, we should not tune in. It’s time to teach these overpaid athletes that they can’t bully the American people!”
Under the banner of #BoycottNFL, thousands tweeted their dissatisfaction with this decision. A Twitter user wrote, “Now more than ever. We are the UNITED States, not DIVIDED Races. We have ONE national anthem and it's the Star-Spangled Banner.”
Ted Cruz wrote, “How many national anthems do we have?? Is there a Hispanic national anthem? An Asian-American national anthem? This is asinine. We are ONE America. E Pluribus Unum.”
“It’s useless this league turned into a big snowflake fest and I've had it!!!!! I will never watch the NFL ever again and I’m going to make sure my kids don’t either!! It’s always the Blacks that get the extra privilege, well I'm not having it no more,” wrote another angry Twitter user, echoing racist rhetoric expressed by many.
Soon, however, the hashtag was overtaken by those criticizing it. Responding to a supposed boycotter, a Twitter user wrote, “You and your fellow hood-wearing, skin-headed, Hitler-worshipping buffoons will be missed. #BoycottNFL.”
Another noted, “How many times now has the Righteous Right claimed to be boycotting the @NFL? 10, 20, 100 times #BoycottNFL.”
“Everyone who is threatening to #BoycottNFL is totally going to watch week 1. Lmfao who the hell are you guys kidding?” wrote another user.