A singer says she was told she could not perform the national anthem during an NBA game in Philadelphia after she showed up to sing in a basketball jersey with the words "We Matter."
During Wednesday night’s Philadelphia 76ers game between the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Wells Fargo Center, singer Sevyn Streeter was supposed to perform the national anthem — but at the last minute, she says her performance was canceled.
She said in a Twitter video to her fans: “I'm at the 76ers game ready to sing the anthem and the organization is telling me I can't because I’m wearing a ‘We Matter’ jersey."
The 30-year-old R&B singer said she was never told about a dress code.
The 76ers immediately drafted a member of the team’s dance squad to sing the anthem in her place.
In a statement to ESPN, the 76ers said: “The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change. We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community.”
The NBA has not commented on the matter.
Streeter is not alone in raising awareness at NBA games this fall.
Prior to the NBA season tipping off earlier in the week, Denasia Lawrence wore a ‘Black Lives Matter’ T-shirt at a recent Miami Heat preseason game and knelt while she performed the anthem on October 21.
Singer Leah Tysse took a knee when she sang the national anthem at a 76ers preseason game on October 22.
She took to Facebook following her performance and wrote: “I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed, and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability.
“The sad reality is, as a white American, I am bestowed a certain privilege in this nation that is not enjoyed by all people. Black families are having much different conversations with their children about how to interact with the police than white families. Let’s be honest. Until we can recognize that white privilege exists we cannot have a dialogue about race.”
In 2014, LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving, as well as members of the Brooklyn Nets wore “I Can’t Breathe’ shirts in response to the death of Eric Garner who was killed in Staten Island earlier that year when he was placed in a chokehold by an NYPD officer.
After the players wore the shirts, President Obama told People magazine: “We forget the role that Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe and Bill Russell played in raising consciousness. We went through a long stretch there where [with] well-paid athletes the notion was, "just be quiet and get your endorsements and don’t make waves."
"LeBron is an example of a young man who has, in his own way and in a respectful way, tried to say, ‘I’m part of this society, too’ and focus attention. I’d like to see more athletes do that — not just around this issue, but around a range of issues.”