Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest has started a much-needed discussion in America. Unfortunately the discussions haven’t always been positive, enlightening, or even very American.
Kaepernick has been ridiculed, called despicable names, and had his motivation questioned. There are public figures seeking to shame him. There are those who suggest that he doesn’t support our Armed Forces, doesn’t know what oppression is, or is somehow un-American. (Or not “black.”)
We have become a very mean-spirited, attack-prone, critical society. The fear mongering, marginalizing and hate speech is reaching epidemic levels.
Just yesterday I saw an interview with Tony La Russa where he questioned Kaepernick’s motivation and said he would never allow a player in his organization to protest this way.
Forgive me if I feel this reeks of the Jim Crow era. We have a powerful white guy upset with an uppity Negro for how he chooses to protest. (And suggesting that he knows what motivates his actions.) Sorry, that doesn’t work in America any longer.
The issues Kaepernick raises are very, very real. If you don’t think so, you’re living in a segregated bubble. I used to ask Dennis who worked in my shipping department, to have my cars serviced when I was on the road. After a few months, he asked me if I could get someone else to handle the job. I asked why…
He explained that is was very stressful for him, because he kept getting pulled over. Evidently the Miami-Dade area police think a black man driving exotic cars is suspicious and grounds for investigation. And any rational person not in denial knows that profiling and judgment situations like this (and incidents far worse) happen to people of color every day.
America is not perfect. No country is. What makes America great is our right to free speech, peaceful protest and the opportunity to create progress. If you really believe that America stands for liberty and justice for all, you have to recognize and respect everyone’s right for peaceful protest.
You don’t get to choose how another person protests.
There were people telling Gandhi his methods were wrong. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was ostracized for his methods on non-violent protest. People like Rosa Parks were initially marginalized, even demonized.
I stand and even tear up every time I hear the National Anthem. But that anthem represents America. And America represents the right of free speech and peaceful protest. Even when we don’t like it or agree with it.
So Colin Kaepernick, I salute you. And thank you for raising both the issue and awareness.