Rihanna turned down the invitation to perform at next year's halftime slot in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The controversy around Kaepernick began when the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback refused to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” in August of 2016 in protest of racial inequality and police brutality in the United States. Kaepernick was released by the San Francisco team at the end of the 2017 season and has not played one snap since then. In retaliation, he filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners last fall for plotting to keep him off the roster.
Superstars like Jay Z, Rihanna and Cardi B have refused music’s most coveted invitation and explicitly cited Kaepernick’s unemployment as the reason, fueling the public’s growing dissatisfaction with the way the league has handled Kaepernick’s protest.
Trends on Twitter and Instagram show that the #BoycottNFL hashtag is almost exclusively attached to posts declaring support for the quarterback and activist — not those expressing anger at players who have continued his protest.
The protests grew during the 2017 season after Trump criticized NFL players who chose to follow Kaepernick’s example. Trump said owners should "fire" NFL players who protest the anthem and referred to them as "son[s] of b------.”
Players responded by protesting en masse. The fight between the celebrity athletes, the NFL owners and Donald Trump is still in full effect, and it does not seem that it will slow down anytime soon.
“I think anyone that goes into the halftime show is in effect directly violating those that want to raise the question that the NFL should come to terms with what they have done and continue to do to Colin Kaepernick and those that protest on criminal justice issues,” Sharpton told TMZ. “I think he should do what a lot of other major artists have done — say, ‘I’m not going to participate.’ You can’t fight against Jim Crow and then go sit in the back of the bus.”
Big Boi will officially join Maroon 5 on the country’s biggest stage. The announcement was released late, in large part thanks to simmering resentment of the NFL among a number of entertainment industry heavyweights, according to Billboard.
Many celebrities in music, film and beyond have supported Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality and systemic injustice since the beginning. The saga that’s unfolded since has made ignoring the NFL’s political heft nearly impossible.
Colin Kaepernick used his platform to insist that America’s institutions need to value and protect black lives just as they do white ones — and the league hasn’t employed him since, despite the rumors saying he would get a contract soon.
Rapper Travis Scott will also be joining Maroon 5 on stage during the Super Bowl halftime show, regardless of the backlash he might receive.
"I back anyone who takes a stand for what they believe in," Scott said in a statement to Billboard. "I know, being an artist, that it’s in my power to inspire.”
By Alex Pimentel, Ryan Lee