Hayes, Hill protest National Anthem, calling for social action

Along with Jordan Hill, Nigel Hayes has participated in a quiet protest of the National Anthem this season.

Image By: Jessi Schoville

Wisconsin Badgers forward Nigel Hayes has not been shy in expressing his opinions on the current social climate in the U.S., expressing ad nauseum his frustrations with how Black Americans are currently being treated.

In UW’s first two exhibition games, Hayes and his teammate Jordan Hill have delivered their own on-court protest, standing out-of-line from their teammates as the National Anthem was performed.

“You can’t take a knee on the court because my knee would hurt,” Hayes said. “So therefore I stand back. Similar reasons why [Colin] Kaepernick does it, with the type of country we live in, the things that are going on as you see.”

Hayes and Hill plan to continue protesting by standing behind their teammates until things become more fair and equal, according to Hayes.

The idea for the protest sprang from ongoing conversations between the two Badgers about race relations in the U.S.

No other Badgers have joined them thus far, but Hill acknowledged they would accept their teammates with open arms should they choose to partake in the protest.

“There’s a lot of concerns that everyone in America should have,” Hill said. “But you’ve got to take care of you and yours first, and our people are not being taken care of. So that’s what we’re doing to signify what everyone is singing in here or everywhere across the nation before a game does not represent us and until it does, we are not going to be apart of it.”

Hayes also acknowledged that he wishes the University had handled the recent incident involving a student wearing a costume depicting President Barack Obama in a noose differently.

“It’s kind of like putting a band-aid on something,” Hayes said of UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s recent statement on the incident. “[They made] a mistake with the first response; it was extremely nonchalant, sweep it under the rug.”

Hayes said he watched the Presidential Election results last night with fellow senior Bronson Koenig.

“It’s kind of unfortunate that someone who could be overtly racist, sexist, xenophobic could win like that, but then again it’s not shocking, white Americans make up 74 percent of the country, so he’s probably speaking to a large majority of them,” Hayes said of Donald Trump’s victory. “Hillary [Clinton] won the popular vote, so all those people saying, ‘vote for Hillary so she’ll win,’ it’s kind of weird how Hillary had more votes and she still lost, but I guess it’s another topic for another day.”

Koenig declined to comment on what he thought about Tuesday night’s election results.

“I stayed up until 1 [a.m.] with Bronson,” Hayes said. “I’m sure you guys saw some of his tweets. You should have seen him in person.”

Additionally, Hill acknowledged that he is working on something alongside Hayes to create change in the Madison community, but declined to share specifics on what exactly they have planned.

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