To those who are still asleep or in denial in America, history is repeating itself! There are many, many people agitated by Kaepernick and other athletes for not standing during the national anthem/saluting the flag at football games. I’ve read comments saying “He needs to shut up and play football”, “This isn’t the proper forum for that”, “Patriotism before humanity”, “If you hate America so much…leave”, etc. Let’s get one thing straight: the silent protest during the anthem has nothing to do with the US military or its veterans. It has everything to do with America’s treatment of minorities, specifically people of color. In order to have this conversation, you have to leave that at the door.
Where and when is the proper forum for protesting? Should it be where people can ignore it by changing the channel or walking away? Should it be done only when everyone approves and no one is offended? Protest is most effective when it’s peaceful and presented on a broad spectrum. It’s meant to ruffle feathers and make one uncomfortable as it exposes social issues/injustices and question our way of thinking. There are some that believe sports shouldn’t be weaved with such issues. But guess what: this is America. In this country, we all have the freedom to express ourselves. I understand those who are unsettled, or angered, by it don’t want to be reminded or challenged. And that’s a problem. You need to be reminded and challenged because that’s the only way to bring about change and stop HISTORY FROM REPEATING.
JFK tried to talk MLK out of the March on Washington because it wasn’t the right time. Ali was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to 5 years in prison, fined $10,000 and banned from boxing for 3 years because people believed him unpatriotic. Many thought it improper for Rosa Parks to refuse to surrender her seat to a white passenger. Before the SCOTUS’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, desegregation was unthinkable. Many people felt it wasn’t the proper forum for Blacks to have lunch counter sit-in protests through the 60s. And now we’ve come full circle to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and athletes’ silent protests. People are still responding with the same rhetoric. #WakeUpAmerica
One might argue that Kaepernick is no MLK, Ali or Parks. However, they weren’t revered by the nation when they stood up for what they believed in, much like Kaepernick now. His protest is for people like me, much like MLK protesting for my grandparents, parents and future generations.
For those calling any athletes unpatriotic and disrespectful of the flag, that’s the furthest from the truth. You see, America has a history of ignoring the real issues and like to place blame or distract from the point, and objects when Black voices demand equality. Being patriotic goes beyond standing for an anthem, saluting a flag or voting for a president every 4 years. Side note: You know how Hitler began? Mandating patriotism. #FoodforThought
Don’t you see the problem? If you don’t then you’re doomed to keep the vicious cycle going. Yes, we all matter but it’s a fact that I live in a country that discriminates and displays bigotry against me routinely. And this is due to the melanin in my skin being darker than my white counterparts.
Pause and examine why you’re angry, or fearful, about the protests and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Understand that people of color aren’t trying to start a war. We want awareness and change. Identify with us. Walk with us. Recognize our struggle and value. Make the change with us.
Remember: the man who doesn’t learn from the mistakes of his ancestors is bound to carry their scars.