Opinion: Men’s basketball made next step toward racial equality


Dan Armelli

Dan Armelli

Last week, the Kent State men’s basketball team made national headlines for its actions prior to its home opener against Mississippi Valley State University.

For the singing of the national anthem, Kent State players went into the stands and selected fans of different races to stand with them during “The Star Spangled Banner.” As reported by The Kent Stater’s Nick Buzzelli, senior guard Deon Edwin came up with the idea to show solidarity and unity in a time when the country is filled with social chaos.

The actions of the Kent State basketball team were picked up by outlets such as ESPN and The Washington Post. The coverage allowed the team’s message to permeate throughout the U.S., just as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did when he first kneeled during the national anthem.

I’ve seen comparisons made between these two actions, and while some find Kent State’s sign of unity to be a direct opposition to Kaepernick’s gesture, I think what the Flashes did extends his message.

While done in different ways, both attempted to rally the nation in support of racial equality.

Kent State provided a glimpse into what America’s future holds — actual solidarity between all races of people, in every part of the country.

I appreciate what Kaepernick and the Kent State men’s basketball team — and those who have chosen to or will choose to replicate — are doing because both are types of action that are needed in this country.

You don’t have to choose between one or the other. Sports reporter Henry Palattella reported three players for Hiram College’s basketball team knelt during the national anthem at Kent State’s second home game. While the Flashes again invited fans onto the court and said they will continue to do so.

Both actions are important steps taken this year, to create true racial equality.

Kaepernick created a heavy, nationwide conversation about racial equality with his controversial, non-violent protest, which he continues to this day. It made many angry, but it also forced people to talk about what is going on in this country and provide even more awareness to racial injustices minorities face far too often.

Racial equality is an important part of what makes America a great country. Without this unity, we lose what makes this country truly rich in culture.

As President-elect Donald Trump moves into The White House in late January, it still feels like we’re far away from having actual equality throughout America. But Kent State men’s basketball team broke ground with the latest innovative way to bring awareness to racial equality.

Dan Armelli is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].