English Premier League (EPL) soccer players have been kneeling in droves since 2020, when support for Black Lives Matter (BLM) became fashionable. With the new Arsenal Gunners away kit, kneeling has been less frequent.
Gathering inspiration from Aston Mack, Arsenal unveiled an all-black kit that was an ode to the social justice group Orlando Freedom Fighters, which Mack founded in 2020 to protest alongside BLM.
🗓Aston Mack’s photo went viral two years ago. His story is here.
From Baltimore to Orlando and beyond, we’re sharing the stories of Gooners from across the USA 📖
❤️Next: Aston Mack (activist and Orlando Gooner). pic.twitter.com/pv0GSWicCL
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) July 17, 2022
Mack was a participant in a 2020 protest that went viral. He was wearing a yellow Gunners Jersey to Orlando. Arsenal asked Mack for his story.
We noticed someone in Orlando last week via Twitter #BlackLivesMatterDemonstration wearing an @Aubameyang7 @Arsenal Jersey. He is Aston Mack. This is his story… 🔈🔈🔈VOLUME UP🔈🔈🔈 pic.twitter.com/fkBNQvAF1e
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) June 12, 2020
“I’m just as a little guy out here, and Arsenal’s a $14 billion value club, and they take the time out of their day to have the chief executive reach out to me,” Mack said at the time. “It shows to me that I was correct, that my club’s values are the ones that I think that they are. Arsenal’s always preached about victory through harmony …”
Two years later, Arsenal’s kits will reflect the woke values he stands for.
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“For Arsenal to come in and say: ‘Hey this is important, we will shine a light on this, we won’t shy away from these issues, this is valuable, this is what we stand for,’ it is really important,” Mack said. “It really gets a lot of people galvanized and energized. This gives us hope.
Although it’s important that we are not racist, sports leagues or activists sometimes get it wrong by thinking that supporting organizations such as the Orlando Freedom Fighters or BLM will encourage equality.
Actually, it is the reverse. The goal of these organization’s social justice causes is to make white people in the present pay for the mistakes of white people in the past. This is not justice. Instead, it is a vicious cycle of guilt and shame that directs racism toward white people.
Arsenal might feel a bit better about themselves, but that’s okay.