Nottingham Forest soccer player Lyle Taylor is making waves for his refusal to bend the knee with Black Lives Matter activists, who have demanded that athletes show solidarity with the social justice movement that has swept across North America and Europe.
In an interview with LBC, Taylor described the anti-police movement as a “Marxist group” that pushes racial division.
“Enough was enough,” he said to LBC’s Nick Ferrari.
Taylor’s comments follow remarks by Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, who also said he would not take the knee. The initiative was adopted by the premier league last season with the wave of protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement that was sparked by George Floyd’s death while in police custody. Riots that occurred alongside the protests claimed the lives of at least 30 people.
On Thursday, Zaha, who is black, advised that players “should stand tall.” He described taking the knee as “degrading.”
"It's becoming something that we just do now," Zaha said to BBC Sport. "It feels like we are isolating ourselves from these things that are not working anyway."
"Why must I even wear Black Lives Matter on the back of my top to show you that we matter? This is all degrading stuff," said Zaha.
Taylor, whose father is black, says that he has been branded a racist and called names like “Uncle Tom” and “coon” for speaking out against Black Lives Matter. He also said that he believes white players feel pressured to taking a knee before the games out of fear of being branded racists.
“I took the decision because I felt that enough was enough,” said Taylor, adding that “not enough people have looked into the organization that has kind of brought this all to the fore.”
“I said before that I agree with the message that black lives do matter and something needs to be done about that to actually teach the message that the racial inequality and the societal injustice needs to stop,” Taylor said.
He added: “But by the same token, we are hanging our hat on a Marxist group who are… looking to defund the police, they’re looking to use societal unrest and racial unrest to push their own political agenda, and that’s not what black people are, we’re not a token gesture or a thing to hang your movement on just because it’s what’s powerful and what’s going on at the moment.”
Taylor’s criticism of Black Lives Matter is nothing new for the athlete. He has previously expressed supposedly “politically incorrect” views when he rejected outrage over terms like “mixed race” and “dual heritage.”
“You have some people saying you can’t say black. You can’t say mixed race because it’s now dual heritage. No, no. I’m mixed race. My mum is white and my dad is black,” he said, reported Breitbart. “He’s black, not colored. My mum is white, not, I don’t know, beige. The problem is the words we use and which words we can use. We get told you can’t say certain words so often. I don’t want to be called dual heritage.”
“Are we going the same way as people choosing their pronouns, saying ‘I don’t want to be called he or him, I want to be it or they or them.’ Are we maybe missing the point?”