A Tale of Two Protests and What it Screams About America

Two of the leading social movements in the past couple years have involved harassment and violence against Black people at the hands of the police, and sexual misconduct against women.  Both movements also addressed oppression and unfair treatment. While on parallel paths, the differences in acceptance, public outcry and media treatment could not be more stark.

One would have to wonder why . . . if we did not already know the answer.

The Movements

NFL National Anthem Protests







(Tarana Burke, a Black woman started the movement–but it was given little attention until White actresses picked it up)

The Start

NFL National Anthem Protests

August 14th, 2016
Colin Kapaernick doesn’t stand and instead sits on the bench during the national anthem. It goes unnoticed.

August 26th, 2016
Kapaernick kneels during the anthem, and his protest is noticed for the first time.

August 27th, 2016
Kapaernick explains, “I am not going to stand and show pride in a flag for a county that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

September 1st, 2016
49ers teammate Eric Reid joins Kapaernick’s protest along with Seattle Seahawks player Jeremy Lane, stating, “It’s something I plan to keep on doing until justice is being served.”


October 5th, 2017
The New York Times breaks the story of decades of sexual misconduct perpetrated by powerful Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein.

October 15th, 2017
Actress Alyssa Milano tweets, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” The concept goes viral, leading to 12 million #metoo tweets and Facebook posts in the first 24 hours, and remains a trending topic on Facebook and Twitter for weeks.

January 7th, 2018
At the Golden Globes, men and women wore all black along with pins designating their support for Time’s Up, a newly formed advocacy group pushing for gender parity in the entertainment industry (as well as supporting low income women’s legal defense needs). Natalie Portman showed her disgust at the “all male” nominees for Best Director. Multiple women, including Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep and Frances McDormand focus on the movement against sexual harassment throughout the show.

The host, Jimmy Kimmel says, “ We can’t let bad behavior slide anymore. The world is watching us, and we need to set an example.”

The Money

NFL National Anthem Protests

September 2nd, 2016
Kaepernick pledges the first 1 million of his salary to community, advocacy, and social justice organizations fighting against police misconduct.

November 29th, 2017
The NFL announces negotiations with Anquan Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins of the Players Coalition, offering to donate $100 million to community organizations over seven years (an amount fairly in line with donations the NFL already annually allocates). The offer is controversial among protesting NFL players; Eric Reid and Michael Thomas leave the Players Coalition, complaining the negotiation sidesteps their goals and attempts to buy their silence.


January 1st, 2018

$13 million in funding initiated Time’s Up and came from 200 individuals and groups, including multiple talent agencies whose current and former rosters included both men accused of sexual misconduct and women who had come forward with stories of abuse. While some celebrities decried the involvement of these talent agencies, the first public statement from Time’s Up is signed by 400 women from across the entertainment industries in the US and Great Britain.

January 14th, 2018

Leaked financial records reveal Mark Wahlberg was paid $1.5 million for reshoots on a film where his co-star Michelle Williams was paid $1,000 for the same amount of work; in response Wahlberg pledges to donate his payment to Time’s Up. Meanwhile, public crowdfunding for Time’s Up surpasses $16 million.

February 5th, 2018

Time’s Up campaign member Tina Tchen reveals the campaign had raised $20 million for its legal defense fund and received 1,000 requests for help during a Time’s Up panel at the 2018 Makers Conference. As of Feb. 16, the fund had topped 21 million. “Our overall goal is $100 million so while we have made great progress, we still have a ways to go,” says the Time’s Up spokesperson. “We encourage everyone to support the fund.”

The Reactions

NFL National Anthem Protests

August 26th, 2016
People and media begin to decry Kaepernick.  Fans buy Kaepernick jerseys just to publicly burn them.  Police threaten to withhold security services at games. People call for the 49’ers to fire him.

August 29th, 2016
Trump states, “I think it’s personally not a good thing. I think it’s a terrible thing. And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him.”

September 22nd, 2016
Kapaernick admits that he has received multiple death threats

October 10th, 2016
Supreme Court justice Ginsburg states, “I think it’s dumb and disrespectful.”

March 3rd, 2017
Kapaernick opts out of contract with the 49ers. GM John Lynch says they would’ve cut him regardless

March 24th, 2017
Richard Sherman and others begin stating that Kapaernick is being Black balled.

Summer 2017
Several other less talented quarterbacks receive contract extensions and free agent deals.  Kaepernick — who led a team to the Super Bowl — does not receive an invitation to any of the 32 training camps.

August 12th, 2017
Marshawn Lynch sits for the anthem preseason

August 13th, 2017
Michael Bennett sits for the anthem following the events in Charlottesville

September 22nd, 2017
Trump tells the participants at a rally in Alabama that a refusal to sing the national anthem is  “disrespectful to our heritage. Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects your flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off of the field right now, out, he’s fired.”

September 24th, 2017
Teams across the country take knee, link arms or stay in the changing room during the anthem

Fans in stadiums across the country boo protesting players.


Jan 20th, 2018
Major women’s marches occur across the country.

Women who speak up are deemed heroes. They are on magazine covers and get TV interviews to speak about their cause.  Collectively they ultimately win Time Magazine’s  “Person of the Year”

Jan. 21st, 2018  
Where Diversity Begins panel at the Sundance Film Festival.

Casey Affleck withdraws from presenting the lead actress award at the Oscars.

January 28th, 2018
Grammy Award attendees wear Time’s Up pins and white roses as a symbol of “hope, peace, sympathy and resistance.” “We come in peace but we mean business,” says Janelle Monae in a rousing tribute to Time’s Up while introducing Kesha’s powerhouse performance of “Praying.”

January 30th, 2018
Hundreds of Democrats wear black and Time’s Up pins at the State of the Union.

February 5th, 2018
Female music executives from Universal, Warner and Sony issue a letter remonstrating with the Recording Academy leadership following Grammy president Neil Portnow’s claim that women need to “step up.”

February 6th, 2018
Women in Film launches a group to help victims of sexual harassment.

Where Are They Now?

NFL National Anthem Protests

May 22nd, 2018
The NFL announces the finalization of their deal with the Players Coalition to donate $90 million over an undisclosed amount of time. The nonprofit in charge of the NFL’s charities remains $43 million per year (meanwhile, overall league revenue was estimated at $14 billion for 2017).

May 23rd, 2018
The NFL passes a new requirement that all players on the field during the national anthem must stand, under penalty of an undisclosed fine. This rule was never negotiated or collectively bargained with the Players’ Union.

Colin Kapaernick and Eric Reid still do not have jobs.

Meanwhile, 27 percent of the 1,129 people killed by police in 2017 were Black (Black people make up 13 percent of the total US population). Out of these, only twelve officers were charged in crimes related to shooting deaths.

Racial breakdowns for people killed by police in 2018 aren’t available yet, but this year 412 people have been shot and killed by police so far.


May 25th, 2018
Harvey Weinstein turns himself in on multiple criminal charges of sexual assault and harassment.

To date, Time’s Up has raised over $21 million for its advocacy and legal defense work, and over 500 lawyers have agreed to work pro-bono or at greatly discounted rates to defend low income women.

Hundreds of powerful men in Hollywood and the entertainment industry at large have faced a range of professional, social, and criminal consequences in response to allegations of sexual misconduct. #MeToo and The Weinstein Effect are widely celebrated as watershed moments in the US’s reckoning with sexual harassment.

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About Randi B.

Randi is a diversity and inclusion strategist, speaker, trainer and writer, focusing on making connections and cultivating empathy in this diverse world one trip, speech, article, book and conversation at a time.

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