Aaron Judge understands that it may be controversial to some. The Yankees slugger knows not everyone feels the same way, but the Bombers will have the hard conversations and decide how they want to use their platform to support the protests of racial injustice and police brutality that are going on across the country.
Monday night, several Giants players, coaches and manager Gabe Kapler kneeled during the national anthem, protesting racial injustice in this country. In a stark contrast to 2017, when Bruce Maxwell was the only player to join Colin Kaepernick and protest by kneeling the national anthem, MLB stood behind the Giants’ protest. The league’s official Twitter account promoted picture of the Giants with players and Kapler kneeling.
“You see it on Twitter, videos and pictures. No, we haven’t discussed it yet as a team, because it’s kind of tough to meet in one area because all the rules and regulations now with the six feet apart, but we’ll do it We’ll definitely discuss it going into Thursday,” Judge said. “And what I thought of it? That’s the beauty of America. It’s freedom of speech and freedom to express yourself. We’ve got a special platform being athletes, and being able to speak our mind and speak what’s going on in this world.
“Some people express it online, some people express it with words, some people kneel or do what they need to do,” Judge continued. “But I think whatever message that we try to give out here is we want to try to express unity and that we’re all in this together. I think that’s the biggest message that we’re going to try to get across from here is just, we’re all in this together. Try to have those uncomfortable conversations that we need to have and bring up those uncomfortable talking points.”
Judge was one of several Yankees who expressed their support for the massive protests and civil unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man, who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer, who held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Aaron Hicks came into the rebooted spring training with the intention to learn more about how to support Black-owned businesses. James Paxton came in after expressing solidarity looking more to listen and learn about the subject.
Each is encouraged to express themselves, Aaron Boone said.
“I’m supportive of that. This country allows you to express yourself in many different ways. And that’s one of the beauties of it. I respect how anyone wants to demonstrate and whether it’s in protest or whether it’s in solidarity, whatever the reasons may be, I have no issue with that and support that,” the Yankees manager said. “And, and if that comes our way, as a club, I’ll stand behind whoever has a strong feeling about it one way or the other. We’ve talked a little bit about it and we will talk a little bit more about things that are planned for Opening Day and beyond when we get together again tomorrow and meet in D.C.”
For Luke Voit the discussion has to include respect for his teammates and his family. Voit’s brother is a West Point graduate who is serving in the Army.
“I mean, obviously, there’s been discussions going on for a long time with everything going on,” Voit said about the issues of systemic racism and police brutality. “I respect them (for kneeling). It’s an ongoing conversation that we have to have as players and we know, we all have a voice and we need to step up because this country has been in a weird place.
“But then my brother’s in the military. I want to honor those who have sacrificed their lives too and I want to honor my brother too,” Voit said. “So it’s a little different. But I get it and we need change and I hope it’s doing something that can better this world.”
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