On September 2, 2106, High School football player Rodney Axson got down on one knee during the national anthem in protest of his teammates’ use of the N word. Though the two players in question insisted their original use of the word was directed at members of the opposing team, Axson rightfully called them out for the use of the racial slur.
Rather than respecting the perspective of their African American teammate, the two white players dismissed Axson’s concerns. In spontaneous protest, Axson took to one knee and prayed during the national anthem. The backlash was immediate.
Reflecting the racial makeup of the surrounding Cleveland suburb of Brunswick, Brunswick High School is predominately white as is the football team. Axson is one of three African American players on a squad of over 100 white players. After his protest, several of his teammates called him the N word both in text messages and verbally.
Word of the mistreatment went public when someone released a snapchat photo of a note containing explicit racial slurs and threats against Axson. The school district’s superintendent Michael Mayell called the note “reprehensible” and expressed the district’s intention to investigate the matter both internally and in cooperation with local law enforcement.
Axson’s parents, who moved the family to the suburbs to escape gun violence and provide a better life for their children, are dismayed by their son’s treatment. Supportive of their son’s protest, they don’t feel that the coaching staff of the football team has been proactive enough in dealing with the misconduct of the players in question.