An American story that was on its way to becoming an American dream got derailed last month by American’s greatest sin — racism. But, a month later, that American dream is back on track after some American politicians came together in the name of bipartisanship to let a Black Naval officer and Annapolis grad live his American dream.
Cameron Kinley’s football dreams came true when he signed a free-agent contract with the defending champion Tampa Bay Bucs and played with the team during rookie minicamp. But, things were put on hold when the Navy denied his request to delay his service in an example of how naivety, racism, politics, football, the military, and faux patriotism work in this country. The political science major, who also served as class president and had dreams of a future in politics (he aspires to be this country’s second Black president),was told to hang up his cleats last month, despite watching as white servicemen like Jon Rhattigan (Army), Nolan Laufenberg (Air Force), and George Silvanic (Air Force) all received approval to delay their service so they could play in the NFL.
But, in a stunning turn of events, Kinley is being allowed to play for the Bucs.
The combination of Lloyd Austin – this country’s first Black Secretary of Defense, Marco Rubio, and President Joe Biden all had a hand in overturning’s the Navy’s decision.
“Upon completion of his playing time, we look forward to welcoming him back inside the ranks as a naval officer,” Austin said in the statement. “In the meantime, we know Cameron will take every opportunity on and off the field to ably represent the Navy and the military to the American people and to assist us in our recruiting efforts. I applaud Navy leadership for finding this way to showcase both Cameron’s athletic prowess, as well as the quality and professionalism of our student athletes and our personnel.”
“I am confident that Cameron will represent the Navy well in the NFL, just as he did as a standout athlete and class president at the Naval Academy,” President Biden said in a statement. “After his NFL career is over, he will continue to make us proud as an officer in the United States Navy.”
If you’re wondering why this situation took so long to untangle it’s because Trump’s administration had something to do with this at one point. Back in 2019, Trump told the Pentagon to allow service academy graduates to delay their service requirements so that they could play pro sports. Ironically, the move was something the Obama administration had already started but was shut down by Trump’s people once he got into office.
“Our military academies exist to develop future officers who enhance the readiness and the lethality of our military services,” Pentagon officials wrote in May 2017. “Graduates enjoy the extraordinary benefit of a military academy education at taxpayer expense.”
It took all of this for a football player, that Bruce Arians reportedly said “showed promising signs when he was here,” to be allowed to pursue a pro career. This is what it feels like to be Black in America. Because even when you exceed all expectations in the classroom and on the playing field, it sometimes takes action from this country’s Commander in-Chief to allow you to pursue your own American dream, even after you’ve pledged to fight for America.