A stunning new poll shows that Americans have had a drastic change of heart when it comes to professional athletes protesting against racial inequality.
A YouGov.com poll asked American adults if they supported the Milwaukee Bucks decision to sit out their playoff game versus the Orlando Magic on Wednesday in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police in Kenosha, Wis.
The Bucks’ protest resulted in not only the rest of the NBA going on hiatus for days, but caused other leagues to suspend games in order to bring awareness to this egregious display of injustice and nationwide racial oppression.
According to the poll, 57 percent of Americans support the Bucks’ action on Wednesday while only 28 percent of Americans oppose it (15 percent “don’t know”).
The poll stands in strong contrast to the feelings many Americans had in 2016 when former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel as a form of protest before games to bring awareness to racial oppression, and more specifically, police brutality against Black people in this country.
Reuters polls from September of 2016, show that 61 percent of Americans did not agree with Kaepernick protesting, and 72 percent of Americans said that his actions were unpatriotic.
Over the years, public perception of player protests has started to change with more Americans rallying behind the players’ decisions to bring attention to these injustices.
In 2018, a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 53 percent of Americans said it was “never appropriate” to kneel for the national anthem, while 42 percent said it is appropriate to kneel for the anthem sometimes.
The support continued to increase over the next two years, according to a poll conducted in June by Yahoo News and YouGov, 52 percent of American said it was okay for players to kneel during the national anthem to protest the unjust killing of Black people in America. Only 36 percent of Americans said that it was not okay for players to protest.
The June poll comes after one of the most crucial racial awakenings in this country’s history. The killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor left many Americans looking for answers to solve these egregious acts of violence against Black people.
This new poll shows that percentages of support are relatively consistent regionally and don’t vary too greatly by gender, age, and income level.
The most discrepancy the poll displayed was between political parties. 82 percent of Democrats showed their support for the protest while only 21 percent of Republicans chose to do the same thing.
64 percent of Republicans said that they oppose the Bucks’ decision while 9 percent of Democrats said they opposed.
These polls, while not asking the exact same questions, show that Americans’ perception of athletes’ protests are changing, and it could prove to be a positive step in the fight for racial equality in this country.