A singer named Sevyn Streeter, scheduled to perform the national anthem before the Philadelphia 76ers home opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder, showed up to sing wearing a jersey with the words “We Matter” on it. Streeter says the team decided to not let her sing the anthem.
Streeter informed her fans of this on Twitter:
Was suppose to sing the anthem at @sixers & @okcthunder game but mins b4 @sixers said I couldn’t because I was wearing a “We Matter” jersey pic.twitter.com/wjoJN3rq0r
— Sevyn (@sevyn) October 27, 2016
The Sixers issued this statement about their decision: “The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change. We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community.”
The statement refers to the anthem protests as “gestures,” exactly the term Carmelo Anthony used to describe Colin Kaepernick’s empty and ineffectual efforts.
The team conscripted one of their dancers to sing the anthem instead. In the game that followed, the Oklahoma City Thunder crashed Joel Embiid’s long delayed debutante ball. Despite the 2014 first-round pick scoring 20 points and grabbing seven boards, the Thunder emerged with a 103-97 win.
NBA players approved of a rule in their collective bargaining agreement that says they must stand for the playing of national anthems, both American and Canadian. Singers clearly do not. Denasia Lawrence had given no outward indication that she planned to protest when she sung the anthem prior to an NBA game in Miami. Just before she started to sing she opened up her jacket, revealing a “Black Lives Matter” shirt, and then knelt down to sing the song. Lawrence claimed that she protested racial oppression.