The University of New Mexico once again demonstrated it’s disconnect with the community of Albuquerque with its response to the protest against the continued practice of racial inequality in the United States. Athletic director Eddie Nuñez apologized on Tuesday to those who were offended by the five players’ actions referring to the taking of knee during the playing of the national anthem. He went on to say that UNM and the athletic department must earn back those fans’ trust.
Elder Michael Jefferson is a minister at Procession Ministries in Albuquerque.
Athletic director Eddie Nuñez’s apology only serves to further the marginalization of African-Americans, People of Color and the real issues of racial inequality and police brutality. It also brings into question the role of the University’s Office of Equity and Inclusion whose absence during the press conference and lack of any public comment only causes a moment of pause along with bewilderment. It would be thought that UNM one of the nation’s top research schools would garner this moment as a grand opportunity to showcase their wares.
There is no question that the history of county is rooted in radical colonialization, racial inequality, discrimination as well as social and criminal injustice. The school has the unique opportunity to educate a campus, city, state and nation at time when the racial divide in this nation is at its highest point in years. Yet, they would rather join uninformed individuals who co-opted the protest against racial injustice and police brutally and attempted to turn it into a protest and question of anti-patriotism.
African-Americans (not football players) are kneeling during the playing of the national anthem to make a defying statement that this nation has not yet lived up to the ideology of both the Constitution and the flag and is failing to embrace the same.
Eddie Nuñez’s apology clearly suggests that those who regard racial inequality and police brutality as unacceptable behavior and practices are not fans of Lobo sporting activities. Furthermore, his apology indicates that the school supports dehumanizing of African-Americans. This is a human rights protest; it is not about a flag or song which itself contains degrading lyrics about African-Americans. Nor is it about veterans who by the way fight for free speech of all Americans.
UNM and Mr. Nunez must know the difference between the question of patriotism and human rights or they are indeed blinded by a society encased in white privilege. The only other conclusion that can be reasonably arrived unto is that Eddie Nuñez and UNM are participants in the very actions the student athletes are protesting. If not I suggest that they visit the UNM Africana Studies Department immediately.