Trump said protesting NFL players ‘shouldn’t be in this country.’ We should take him seriously.

tags: NFL, Trump, national anthem

Martha S. Jones is the SOBA presidential professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and a co-president of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. She is the author of the forthcoming book "Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America." Thumbnail Image -  By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA - Oakland Raiders National Anthem Kneeling, CC BY-SA 2.0

Thursday morning, President Trump weighed in on a new NFL rule that will fine teams if players on the field protest during the national anthem. “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn’t be there,” he said, before adding: “Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

Had the president just threatened a group of predominantly black Americans with deportation? It’s tempting to dismiss such a remark as mere bluster from a man well-known for his political hyperbole. But there was just enough truth — historical truth — in the president’s quip that it should not be left to dissolve into the ether. Black Americans have faced such threats before, and those threats were never idle.

It has never been easy to be free, black and deemed disruptive in the United States. The vilification of this status has deep roots in our national consciousness that date to the emergence of the first free black communities during the post-Revolutionary era. In the wake of the Revolution, the number of free black people — many of them former slaves — grew. Individual slaveholders responded to the principle of liberty that independence embodied, and Northern states began to abolish slavery, some immediately and others gradually.

Liberation raised a pressing question: Where did free black people fit in the new nation? Some speculated that they were a disruptive force, whether as an unproductive burden on the state or as a thriving and provocative example to those still held in bondage. Leading figures like Thomas Jefferson observed that slavery would eventually end. Yet they envisioned no future for an interracial republic in the United States. No, they had another remedy in mind: colonization.

Colonization meant removal. Not forced removal but, rather, a push for “self-deportation.” Political leaders argued that former slaves — free people, many of whom were asserting claims as members of the body politic — should be persuaded to leave the United States. “Persuasion” was a slippery term that meant nobody anticipated removing them by physical force. Instead, colonizationists proposed using enticements, support and even flattery to relocate black Americans beyond the nation’s borders. ...

Read entire article at The Washington Post

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