The year is 2016. The place is the United States of America, but in this country if you are not white it might as well be 1816, 1916 or even 1966. The year really doesn’t matter because for black Americans not much has changed over the last 200 years. We exist in an illusion of freedom.
It’s an illusion of freedom because in America you’re supposed to have the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the right to bear arms and the opportunity to chase the American dream. However, those things are not for everyone. They aren’t even just for those with pale skin. You have to be classified as white in America to have those freedoms. A drop of black blood will still get you pulled over, called a n*gg*r, or in some cases, even killed.
Colin Kaepernick is a college graduate, raised by loving white American parents, a successful athlete and has decided to not stand for the national anthem or honor the presentation of the flag. For that, the internet has gone ballistic. When asked why, Kaepernick quickly explained his reason behind his actions. It turns out that he has decided to peacefully and quietly protest the ill-treatment of African-Americans as well as other minorities in this country. This wasn’t the first time that Kaepernick decided not to stand but the first time it was noticed. Kaepernick also has been very vocal about recent police shootings of African-American citizens such as Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. His comments on those killings by the hands of police officers got a little publicity but it quickly faded. Understand that Friday night was not the first time Kaepernick felt the conviction to speak up for those who have had their voice silenced, it’s just the first time he is being chastised for it.
Kaepernick is being called a non-patriot and his religion is also being questioned – as if being a Muslim means you cannot be a patriot-loving American (besides he hasn’t even said he has changed his religion).
I have read many comments on Facebook and Twitter today. Some people are saying that if he doesn’t like it here, then he needs to go someplace else to live. Even Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has made similar statements in interviews. It kind of reminded me of those civil rights era conflicts where the racist screamed “N*GG*R GO BACK TO AFRICA”. Some interviews of other athletes have even suggested violence towards Kaepernick for his protest.
It was nice to read that there are some people who are supporting him, because they agree or at least understand what he’s really trying to say, but even some of those people are saying that Kaepernick did the wrong thing in the form of the method of protest he chose. See, Kaepernick decided his own form of protest, not realizing that this particular protest would not be tolerated by White America, therefore this form of protest is not a freedom he is allowed.
After reading the trending news on Kaepernick, I too chimed in on the topic. First, by commenting on a friend’s Facebook post regarding Kaepernick. The comment was a question for those who were offended, “when does a peaceful protest against inequality equal not loving your country?” The only response I received to that particular comment was from a retired minister that said “apparently it is beyond your little mind”. I guess he thinks an African-American can’t comprehend racist bullying.
Another post regarding Kaepernick that I read actually said (in 2016 mind you) that African-Americans have lower IQ than white Americans. Because of this genetic defect, they are unable to excel, therefore, they are not actually being oppressed, they are just substandard. So if we are substandard to whites, wouldn’t that make whites superior? By the way, may I add, we do have a Black president.
I also, read that Kaepernick was an ungrateful jerk because he was able to be raised by white parents and has been given lots of money to throw a football around. Yes, being raised by white parents and making a lot of money probably has gained him some privilege, but obviously that drop of black blood has still kept him tied into the black community because it has not protected him from being called a n*gg*er all over the web.
The last comment that I will mention was probably the most disturbing one to me. This person had the nerve to say that if blacks would stop killing and rioting, they would be better off and wouldn’t have to worry about oppression. In this person’s world, all blacks kill and riot, so again blacks aren’t truly oppressed; they just are substandard human beings. It doesn’t matter that America has a long history of rioting (mainly by non blacks because it wasn’t allowed).
With all the negativity, ugliness, and hate I subjected myself to today by arguing why it truly is okay for a football star to sit down in protest when our anthem plays and our flag is raised, I was still able to better myself with new knowledge. You see, I was already in agreement with why Kaepernick was protesting. I felt he had a right to choose his method, but because of all the hate spewing out over the web today, I dug deeper into American history.
I learned today that the author of the Star Spangled Banner was not just a slave owner but someone who opposed abolition. In fact, there’s a verse in the poem which is not sung because it expresses Key’s joy at the death of slaves dying during the war. So in my opinion, every African-American has the right to sit down during the National Anthem because it certainly wasn’t written for us.
I learned that our nation’s police force began as slave patrols and night watch. To this day the police are still acting as if they are a slave patrol and setting up night watch in the form of our neighborhood watch.
I learned that no matter how diluted your DNA is, if you still have a single drop of black blood, you will be told to go back to a country you don’t know and to a people who would never accept you as an African descendant.
I learned that freedom of speech is not something African-Americans have, because if we try to exercise it we are told we are not patriots or we are thug rioters causing problems. The sad thing, when you think about it, is that there is no greater representation of American patriotism than African Americans. The North probably would have lost the civil war if it were not for black troops. Tuskegee Airmen had to fight for the right to fly so they could go do their part in winning the war. They were rewarded with Jim Crow laws. Some of our soldiers came back to America victorious and proud heroes only to swing from trees still in uniform. Yet today, approximately one third of the US military is made up of minority servicemen & women. Historically, blacks have fought for a country that they love and would never leave, but also for a country that does not love them.
We don’t have the right to bear arms because if we do, we get shot at illegal traffic stops for driving while black. The NRA only jumps in to protect white Americans’ rights. There’s no freedom of assembly, because when we try to unify our people to address a particular problem such as police brutality, we are called terrorists and enemies of the state. So much for #blacklivesmatter. Theres no freedom of religion. Our ancestors were stripped of their God(s) and told what and how to worship. If we think of converting to Islam we end up on a no fly list or again are called a non-patriot. So we mostly worship in segregated churches. I have heard so many times black people need to stop living in the past. The truth is, the past is still our present. We are still trying to get our freedom and equality.