James White expects Patriots to continue Colin Kaepernick's protest movement


James White was one of 17 New England Patriots players who took a knee during the national anthem of a 2017 game against the Houston Texans.

In light of recent events, White and his Patriots teammates might make a similar gesture at some point this fall.

The Patriots running back said Thursday he expects the team to continue the protest movement Colin Kaepernick began in 2016 by kneeling during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality and racial inequality in America.

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"I’m sure we’ll figure out something as a team," White told reporters in a video conference. "Not sure exactly what that will be, but I’m sure guys will peacefully protest in some type of form or fashion."

White believes it's important to continue those protests after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes late last month.

"Colin Kaepernick raised awareness for situations like these a while back and people have continued to try to raise awareness about it," White said. "But now I think the world is kind of seeing how a bunch of people feel. Everybody's trying to understand and get a better grasp of it so things can change in a positive manner."

The Patriots and other NFL players faced backlash back in 2017 from fans who viewed their protests as disrespectful to the American flag. But White hopes those critics now can better understand what he and his NFL counterparts were protesting (Drew Brees' recent comments notwithstanding).

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"People's awareness wasn't as heightened back then, but I think a couple of our teammates just wanted to stand with Kaep. We understood what he was trying to protest, and being Black people in America, we knew exactly what he was talking about, so it was difficult at the time," White said. "Some people might not have understood and some people just didn't want to understand, but with everything going on in the world today, I think it's important that people educate themselves, do a little research and just find ways to understand how America works."

The Patriots running back has noticed progress on that front since Kaepernick began protesting in 2016. The Patriots have had several discussions as a team to discuss race following Floyd's murder, while White is encouraged to see more people calling for change.

"I think it's just the amount of people that are speaking out," White said. "I think when Kaep first started doing his protest, some people didn't have the courage or whatever it might have been to talk about it. I think the NBA, they made their stance on it, but a lot of guys in the NFL were kind of shy or kind of scared to speak their minds.

"But now, since ... everybody is sharing their stories, whether they're white, Black, Latino -- that's the way the world works. We have to work together understand and make things better."

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