What Black America Must Learn from the Unemployment of Colin Kaepernick and Suspension of Ezekiel Elliott

Public Disclaimer: I am a proud alum of THE Ohio State University and a lifetime fan of the Dallas Cowboys. I promise to let neither of those things significantly affect my reflections on what the 6-game suspension of Ezekiel Elliott means.

In the aftershocks surrounding Ezekiel Elliott’s 6-game suspension for violating the National Football League’s (NFL) ‘personal conduct’ policy, I have heard many of my African-American peers lament that the punishment dispensed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as grossly unfair. A few have taken the step of insinuating that the fact that Elliott’s accuser is a white female is a deciding factor.

Although I consider Goodell’s punishment to be harsh when compared to prior league decisions regarding similar matters, I do not think that the Commissioner’s actions are attributable to any inherent personal prejudice or institutional racism in the NFL. However, I do believe that racial matters impacted the decision indirectly.

If one views the recent ruling regarding Elliott and the continuing unemployment of Colin Kaepernick from an unemotional position they would see that the decisions of Commissioner Goodell and team owners are motivated by rising concerns regarding league popularity; a polite way of referring to league finances. Put simply; the stewards of the NFL brand are caught in a peculiar predicament that forces them to do business in a manner that lessens the chances that those whites purchasing the bulk of game tickets remain loyal to the NFL brand.

When viewed in this light, it is apparent that Kaepernick’s difficulty in securing employment is an occurrence of collusion by NFL owners unwilling to offend patriotic whites who will never forgive the embattled figure for kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. Elliott has likewise been sacrificed to appease women’s rights groups, many of which are filled with black women eager to follow their white ‘sisters’ lead in attacking the Dallas Cowboys running back regarding the highly questionable allegations. Make no mistake about it; the NFL realizes that if such groups disapprove of their handling of the Elliott case, their reaction will be furious and immediate.

In many ways, the most significant lesson that African-Americans can take from both matters is that regardless of the skills black workers possess, they are never so essential to operations that they can not be jettisoned the moment they affect bottom line financial realities. Although difficult for black workers to accept, when it comes to industry, they are never the machine performing the work, they are the grease that will be used until it is of no more use and then discarded.

We must never forget that for American Capitalists, it is ALWAYS about the money. And there is not a darn thing that Black Americans can do to alter that reality in this or any future life.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

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