SEATTLE -- After years of losses, the Garfield Bulldogs are on a roll, winning every single game so far this season, in part because they’re playing for a lot more than a football title.
When San Francisco 49er’s quarterbackchose not to stand for the national anthem, linebacker Jason Nguyen was not impressed.
“My first initial thought was like, ‘Oh why is he doing this and like disrespecting America?’ But over the time I started to learn about it more,” Nguyen said.
Daily team talks soon turned into action, and now the entire Bulldogs team is taking a stand by taking a knee.
“I just want to see justice for all people, and the police brutality to stop,” said Jelani Howard, the team’s tight end.
“Institutionalized racism. That’s what I’m taking a knee for,” Nguyen said.
They’ve got support from the Seattle school district and respect from their head coach Joey Thomas.
“I believe in what they’re doing and I believe in the mission,” Thomas said.
The team has already met with the Seattle Police Department to talk about racial inequality, and they’ve published a list of concerns online including academic inequality in their own school district.
Garfield is in Seattle’s inner city. The football field doesn’t have lights or bleachers.
“If you go up north, they will have like an engineering program. But when you come down here, you really don’t have that,” Howard said
He said he thinks the difference has to do with the location of the school.
But not everyone agrees. The team has been the target of hate messages on social media.
“Most of the people who don’t agree with us are mostly Caucasian,” Nguyen said. “For them, they really don’t experience what my other friends on my football team experience.”
It’s tough to talk openly about racial inequality.
“At the end of the day, teenagers just want to be heard, they want to feel like they have a voice,” said Thomas.
Sometimes all it takes is a silent gesture to start the conversation.