We’re Not A Monolith, Just Living Black…


An online article goes like this, “San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did not stand during the national anthem during a pre-season game…”
“After the game, Kaepernick stood firm in his decision to choose not to stand for the anthem saying, “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed.”
Another person stated, “Kaepernick’s protest is just as American as the flag.”
And a gold medal winner in a different sport opined that she “supports Kaepernick’s right to protest.”
Former NBA player, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf supports Kaepernick, having made a similar statement many years ago. He’s on side…
He said, “Look at all of what he has to lose by taking this position: his wealth, his endorsements, possible threats, the attacks against his family. He has a lot to lose. As far as I’m concerned, I think it’s more selfless than selfish… “He ’s willing to put all of that on the line because, to him, truth is more important than those things. Justice and equality is more important than those things.”
Another popular NFL player at the time said, ” […] I don’t commend him for sitting and not honoring this country and our flag.”
Interestingly, while military voices are always front and center of every Stars and Stripes debate, one patriotic veteran’s outfit, #VeteransforKaepernick, in this instance, is onside, letting it be known that they  “fight for the quarterback’s right to protest…”
No doubt much to the chagrin of some other veterans groups.
[I watched an ABC news magazine show recently, which featured a very patriotic veteran talking people like him fighting for the flag and what not. Wonder if he’s familiar with the tens of thousands of Black veterans who over the years have done their “patriotic chore” – in Vietnam, Korea, World Wars 1 and 11… only to return to a life of hell issues back home: institutional racism, police brutality, social inequity, etc. Some of the issues at the core of Colin Kaepernick’s legitimate manifestation.]
Just a sample of the verbal firestorm created by Kaepernick’s decision to defer (more likely pass on) sports stardom and celebrity, multi-million$ and idolization, and commit to something bigger and more personally fulfilling, social activism. He had already concluded that “collusion” is his enemy.
So Kaepernick decided to “take a knee… a stand…” by sitting during the playing of the U.S. national anthem for the usual predominantly white crowd and mainly Black NFL gladiators before taking to the ‘gridiron’ to entertain the capacity crowd at that game in San Francisco in 2016.
Although I periodically watch a few minutes of some NFL games, I’m not much of a football fan, and I wasn’t troubled in the least by his demonstration.
All he did that day was exercise his constitutional, First Amendment right to protest, during the playing and singing of the national anthem.
Many Americans, including Black ones have manifested in the past, others will do so in the future. All Kaepernick was doing that day was just making the point that all is not right in America, especially in the daily existence of African-Americans. [And I might add here, Black Canadians]. Our shared common conditions and daily experiences do not stop at the 49th Parallel.
He was highlighting the continuing shootings, often unjustified, of unarmed Black people, primarily males, by white policemen, especially a recent spate of shootings in the back. Probably too afraid to interact with police and their propensity for shooting to kill, they decided to outrun the bullets… in the process running out of life. It was like hunting game.
Even then, the hunter comes with the old trite excuses/specious reasoning: “my life was threatened… I thought he had a weapon…”
I, too, thought that the ubiquitous cell phone, and mandatory police camera… would be a deterrent, not so. Police seem more emboldened and determined than ever to conduct ‘business’ as usual. To them Black lives still don’t matter.
Furthermore, they, the police, seem heartened by the recurring optics and usual consequence after the ‘downing’ another Black male: suspension with pay pending a full investigation, relegation to desk duty with pay, etc.
Why do US police keep killing unarmed black men? a 2015 BBC News online article headline states.
And the four expert witnesses who talked to the BBC World Service Inquiry respond […] “Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police in the United States … More unarmed black people were killed by police than unarmed white people (my view in any given year)….”It goes back to this question of how do they perceive young black men?”
They continue, “There will never be an acceptable explanation for what happened between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson in Ferguson but we will never fully grasp why the stage was set for such an encounter unless we know American history.”
“We cannot fully comprehend why Dylan Roof murdered nine parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston unless we study the Civil War and the Confederacy.”
“We cannot truly fathom how a minor traffic stop in Cincinnati could result in a white campus police officer blowing out the brains of an unarmed Black man unless we delve into the role race has played in law enforcement from the enactment of the federal Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 to today’s mandatory minimum sentencing statutes.”
Sure, in recent times a policeman or three have been found guilty of manslaughter and given hefty sentences. Aberrations, that’s all.
So as police shootings of Black men continue, some might make mainstream news, social media… others will never have any traction.
No, Kaepernick’s protest – “publicity stunt” as his detractors, some of whom are Black, describe it – to extract a lucrative contract from at least one NFL team to extend his career, is none of that. It’s in keeping with tradition and actions… manifestation and resistance of many Black people who continue to sacrifice time, sometimes lives, in the pursuit of social justice, absolute human and civil rights, including an end to systemic racial and other injustices, all forms of oppression and institutionalized discrimination and exclusion… All the issues that continue to encumber Black America.
As one article states, “In the arena of social change, there is no great victory without great cost. There are the bright and shining moments of great cost — the mutilation of Emmett Till’s young body, the bombing of Dr. King’s house in the early weeks of the Montgomery bus boycott, the “disappearing” and murder of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner at the start of the Mississippi Freedom Summer.”
And much like Kaepernick’s stance, the financial cost.
“[…] There are the numberless costs that are largely forgotten by history – the people who lose their jobs, or don’t get a promotion; the marriages that fall apart because of the stresses of the struggle; the friendships and relationships ruptured or dimmed by the revelation of previously unimagined disagreements, even hatreds.”
Never mind his NIKE connection and social statement, “Believe in something even if it means losing… sacrificing everything… Just Do It…”
Love him or loathe him, support, despise or deride him, Colin Kaepernick is simply maintaining the historical tradition of engaging in Black peoples’ necessary forms of protest, by choosing the path of people like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, (Congressman) John Lewis (he had his skull cracked, was trampled, prodded, bitten, pummelled, hosed…
So far so good for Colin Kaepernick. All he lost was an opportunity to make a few more millions, but he’s clearly unfazed. He’s at peace with where he is right now.