Clemson University head football coach Dabo Swinney was asked to respond to Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police killings of unarmed black men and women by kneeling for the national anthem. Swinney’s response was surprisingly comprehensive and illuminating into his stance on race, religion, and sport. He crystallizes his overall interpretation of societal problems with the statement, “It’s so easy to say we have a race problem, but we got a sin problem.” In this essay, I examine “whiteness” as that which endows whites with a kind of universal authority to establish norms as well as provide a protective cloak of invisibility that effectively hides the identity of those constructing the norms. I argue that Swinney’s unconscious display of his own whiteness coupled with the additional cloak of universal sin, that purportedly knows no color, serves to downplay and dismiss Kaepernick’s call for racial justice.
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