While the NBA has made it clear that players kneeling or displaying other forms of activism during the signing of the national anthem will be disciplined, it appears that policy does not apply to those invited to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to games. Friday night, Roc Nation artist Justine Skye took the knee after singing the national anthem at the Brooklyn Nets home opener at Barclays Center.
Skye knelt while belting out the final note of the anthem, and the Brooklyn native was greeted by what sounded like a mix of cheers and boos.
“Got a bit shaky at the end.. was pretty uneasy about singing the anthem and probably won’t ever be invited to sing it again but I had to take a knee for the opening game in my city and let my voice be heard,” Skye wrote in an Instagram post after her performance began circulating online. “We will not be silenced #blacklivesmatter.”
As the NFL continues to sort out its own mishandling of athletes kneeling during the anthem to protest the injustices people of color face in America, Skye is the latest of a handful of non-athletes to display their brand of activism while singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
On September 24, Meghan Linsey—a former contestant on The Voice—took a knee after singing the national anthem prior to an NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and the Seattle Seahawks.
Last Season the Philadelphia 76ers rescinded an invitation for Sevyn Streeter to sing the national anthem after hearing she planned to wear a jersey embroidered with the phrase “We Matter.” The ensuing backlash led to the Sixers apologizing and inviting Streeter back to sing the anthem while wearing her jersey.
Skye’s Friday night performance was arguably the highlight in a game featuring two teams likely to be eliminated from playoff contention by December. Brooklyn has won a combined 41 games over the last two seasons, while Orlando hasn’t won more than 40 games since the 2010-2011 season. The hosting Nets beat the Orlando Magic 126-121, and the Brooklyn Nets later released a statement regarding Skye taking the knee.
“We recognize that tonight’s national anthem singer kneeled briefly at the end of her performance and we were not aware that she was going to do so,” a Nets spokesperson said, according to ABC News.