It’s been about a year since I wrote this piece. This week, Nike made the decision to make Colin Kaepernick the face of its thirtieth anniversary “Just Do It” campaign, reigniting the debate on NFL players who choose to exercise their First Amendment right to protest by kneeling during the national anthem. Again, the willfully ignorant choose to interpret these acts as protesting the flag, the anthem, the military, veterans, and continue to deliberately ignore what these athletes are actually using their platform to protest, which is racial inequality in this country. Maybe if more of you self-described patriots would give more of a shit about why the athletes are protesting instead of how they’re protesting, they wouldn’t need to protest at all.
Well, that was quite a weekend of football, wasn’t it? For some unknown reason, the “President” of the United States thought it would be a great idea to suggest to NFL owners that they should fire players who choose to exercise their First Amendment rights by kneeling during the National Anthem. He even went the extra mile to refer to some as “that son of a bitch”. Presidential, to the last.
Now, let me clarify that I am not, in any way, qualified to speak on what it’s like to be black in America. I am, however, a white American who tries to listen to black voices to gain a better understanding of their life and experiences here. You know what I also listen to? What other white Americans say in response to the stories of modern day oppression of American people of color. Oh yes, I see you, too. Here are some of the things I’ve seen lately…
- Unbridled and limitless vitriol about how the kneeling NFL players are “disrespecting” our the flag and our military.
- Countless comments on how these “black millionaires” should be “grateful” they live here.
- Complaints that they should “change their own circumstances before they ask others to change.”
- Agreement with von Tweeto that the players should be fired or suspended for kneeling.
Fabulous, right? Now, let’s look at these points…
- You say they’re “disrespecting” the flag and the military, right? That’s odd, because I don’t recall any of you folks saying how disrespectful to our flag and military it was for literal Nazis to be marching in Charlottesville. Why is that?
- You say the players should be “grateful”. I’m sure they are, but you’re clearly not considering the fact that these millionaire athletes are using their platform to speak on behalf of the millions of Americans who don’t have that fame.
- You say they should “change their own circumstances”? You and I both know you’re blowing a racist dog whistle, and every time you do, I, like the man with the barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat, will shut that shit down.
- You say you agree they should be fired or suspended? I don’t remember seeing you say the same for the Nazis in Charlottesville. What’s the difference? I wonder.
The bottom line is this: each and every time my fellow white Americans show your true feelings towards Americans of color, I see you. We all do. I also don’t forget. Do better.