Depending who you are, that name may stir up one of two reactions
in these divisive times.
The name of the 49ers quarterback will either cause you well up with pride in his choice to not stand in reverence during the national anthem or you may be enraged by his protest and want to open up a can of whoop-ass.
I personally have tremendous appreciation for Colin’s act of bravery.
I don’t stand for the pledge of allegiance or the national anthem.
I made this choice long before it became today’s trending topic.
With a couple of exceptions, I haven’t participated in these displays of American pride since my sophomore year in high school.
I’m sure some of you would either publicly or privately call me a spoiled ingrate, a jerk or some other vile alternate manifestation of those words. That’s expected.I don’t care.
But my ancestors… my family members have lived through centuries of abuse and degradation in the name of American freedom.
Black people have always been and continue to be treated like an unwanted alien species (except of course when we are displaying exceptional talents, deemed worthy by white folks; dunking,tackling, singing, tapping, joke telling, etc.)
For years Americans have stood at attention at the start of sports events to salute the flag and sing to their country. But just like Pavlov’s dogs who were trained to answer a bell no matter what awaited them on the other side , very few Americans have actually taken the time to ask questions about the substance behind the symbol of stars & stripes.
What do we stand for?
What does this flag mean?
Are all truly guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
For those of us with a social conscious or a personal history with inequality, the answer to the last question is undoubtedly “no”.
LET’S JUST BE HONEST
Let’s keep it real,America!
You love the idea of America.
But you don’t give a damn about actual Americans.
Think that’s a ridiculous claim?
You think that shoe doesn’t fit?
well just check the resume
The Haves & The Have Nots
We pound our chests with boastful superiority about being the wealthiest & most powerful country in the world while a staggering 45 million Americans live in poverty.
That’s 15 out of every 100 people. Many of these are children.
But we are so concerned with maintaining our illusion of financial supremacy that our society would rather blame the poor for their own suffering while ignoring and even celebrating the corporate greed and political cruelty that causes mass poverty in the first place.
In the United States, Women are still treated like 2nd class citizens.
Women on average earn less pay for doing the same work as men.
In a business world that still reduces the value of a woman to the kitchen, women have a much harder time climbing corporate ladders and attaining more empowered positions.
They are shamed for breastfeeding their children in public, even when being shielded by a covering of some sort.
Women still navigate work places and pubic spaces rife with cultures of sexual harassment and abuse. From Fed-ex to Fox News, many women find their bodies commodified and their voices silenced.
We sure do a great job of visiting New York City and taking pride in “Lady Liberty”
but restrict the liberties of actual ladies.
Most Prisoners in the So-Called Land Of The ‘Free’
American citizens, (especially Republicans) love to criticize North Korea and countries in the Mid-East for having strict, repressive governments but fail to take ownership of the fact that it is actually America that imprisons more people than any other country in the world.
Many of the imprisoned are people with mental health issues who’ve gone without treatment and empathy because of our joke of a health-care system.
Many of those who are locked up are serving time for petty drug possession charges that disproportionately affect poor, minority communities.
Our state governments make incredible profits from incarceration but spend a pathetic amount of money and attention towards actually rehabilitating these people and giving them the resources to become productive citizens.
Neglecting The Troops
Many have said that Colin Kaepernick’s choice to not honor the flag is a slap in the face of the service men and women who volunteer for our armed forces.
But lets talk about the military veterans that we claim to love so much.
Our country spends about 600 billion dollars annually on defense; outspending every other country on planet earth. Despite that insane investment in weaponry and setting aside 6 billion that’s supposed to go to veterans benefits, approximately 2 million veterans live in poverty and the number of those who are homeless are unfortunately unknown.
Women in the armed forces are victims of sexual abuse but find themselves up against a culture of male-ignorance that often forces them to be silent about the violation of their bodies.
In addition to that, the mental traumas of war often go inadequately treated.
The women and men who make the choice to stand on the front lines of war are often exposed to unimaginable horrors, but return home to inadequate treatment and therefore experience higher rates of suicide. According to statistics, 22 veterans take their own lives everyday.
We ignore veterans in our minds and pass them in disgust on the streets.
Meanwhile, media jackasses like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and pimp them out for tv ratings, pretending to care about veteran’s sacrifices while simultaneously defending the laws, corporations and war mongering defense contractors who are responsible for the suffering of veterans and the general population.
Colin Kaperick dares to protest racial injustice in this country by not taking part in an empty patriotic ceremony and you accuse him of treason.
The most many of you so-called patriots do is run around your backyards in American flag underwear and drink copious amounts of Bud Light on the 4th of July but you have deluded yourselves into thinking that somehow you are more deserving than he is of the title “American”.
Paper Champions : Trophies
In America, we are obsessed with toughness.
From Trucks to football to Cross Fit, we place a high value on those who show themselves to be “Tough Mudders”. Our heroes in sports and in folk tales seem to have limitless strength and little room in their diet for excuses or anything less than victory.
Take football player James Harrison. Last year he shared a picture on instagram of 2 trophies that his sons received for participating in a sports camp. He said that he was going to return the trophies ASAP because his sons hadn’t earned them by actually winning something.
His fear is that giving children credit for simply trying their best could actually spoil the children and that rewards should only be given when accompanied by the words winner or champion. I respectfully disagree with this premise.
But many Americans have adopted this trending drill sergeant parenting ideology.
It has now become popular to criticize the act of giving children trophies for participation. One news anchor even went as far as to call it child abuse.
This form of tough-love on steroids makes us paranoid that simply acknowledging those who may have worked hard but didn’t win will make our kids “soft”or punks.
It’s the Abby Lee Miller ‘Dance Moms’ philosophy that “2nd place is the 1st loser”.
If you’re not the best, then you don’t count.
But if unearned bragging rights and hiding the truth about shortcomings dooms our children, then it really makes me laugh out loud that Americans don’t see that we celebrate the same fake victories that we now chastise our children for.
Earlier in this article, I listed many of the ways in which our abysmal record in civil rights and equality don’t exactly justify our star-spangled ego-trip.
But yet and still, at this year’s Democratic Nation Convention, Joe Biden had the audacity and the hubris to say that as Americans “we OWN the finish line”.
We are 23rd in gender equality
American children may not be as advantaged as we may think they are.
Out of 29 developed countries, Unicef ranked the United States #26 in overall child well being, including 28th in childhood poverty, 25th in health and safety and 26th in infant mortality rates.
What good is the wealth and power of a nation when the vast majority of it’s citizens are crushing under it’s weight?
How in the heck can Joe Biden or any American arrogantly claim to “own the finish line”
when the race has been rigged so that only a few can actually finish and prosper?
It is this lack of humility and grand ignorance that is to blame for much of the lack of empathy, lack of perspective, superiority complexes and yes, white male supremacy that hinders social change in our country.
There’s nothing wrong with having pride in where you’re from.
But there is a fatalistic obsession with stars and stripes that blinds us to the reality of many failures of this country. I’m from Chicago. And I rep my city everywhere I go and yell “southside” with the pride and bravado of the Vikings.
I brag about our food, downtown, nightlife, skyline, architecture and museums, parks and sports teams.
But my city pride doesn’t prevent me from keeping it 100 about the plethora of bull crap that goes down there. Political corruption, a revolving door of evil mayors and crooked aldermen, unethical parking meters, failed schools, income inequality, racial segregation, racism and crime.
I love The Chi and because I do, it is my responsibility to be honest about the injustices that are destroying the heart of my city one neighborhood at a time.
Americans. If you really love America then you’ll have the courage to be honest about it’s shortcomings and not be so sensitive and thin skinned everytime someone says or does something in protest to all that is wrong within our nation.
Colin Kaepernick is forcing football fans and all Americans to think and take action on the issues of systemic racial oppression and discrimination.
The Expendables- The Mistreatment of Blacks in America
Over 500 years ago, Africans..my relatives…. my family was stolen from their homes.
They were forced by violence and terrorism into chains and were forced onto boats.
They traveled for 2 months across the Atlantic Ocean. They were chained, starved, beaten and made to lay down in their own feces. Those who didn’t perish from disease or suicide arrived in the Dominican Republic. About 100 years later, they arrived in America and would build this country and it’s economy FOR FREE. While enslaved, they were bought and sold like trading cards. They were beaten, mamed, hung and raped.
After legalized slavery came legalized segregation. Blacks were systematically discriminated against and still were being hung, beaten, tar & feathered, shot and dragged on the back of pick-up trucks just for fun.
For hundreds of years both during and after slavery, white Americans have been playing real-life “Grand Theft Auto” with black bodies long before Rockstar Games sold it in stores for Playstation.
Today, unarmed black men and women can be assaulted and murdered by police and very rarely will their killers be prosecuted for their crimes.
It doesn’t matter if you’re holding a bag of skittles or a legal permit to carry a weapon, having black skin is enough to get you killed.
So while white politicians and civilians were gracious enough to finally allow us to drink from the same water fountains and attend the same schools as them (to which i give a very sarcastic “thank-you”), many African Americans still face 2nd class treatment.
Socially, economically and politically we are not a priority for this country.
How can I, have gratitude for a piece of cloth whose stars and stripes were never printed with people like me in mind?
Why should I rise like a robot and salute a flag that is supposed to stand for freedom in a nation that currently doesn’t protect the freedoms for all?
Why the heck should I be obligated to sing a song written by a slaveowner who was repulsed by the idea of equality when in 2016, African Americans are still being niggerized and bound by shackles of income inequality, unequal treatment.
And please, save the “it’s just a few bad apples” bull-crap.
Those of us who are exposed to racial injustice everyday know that with as many lovely people as their are in this country, the hybrid apple seed of racism, sexism & out of control capitalism have rotted the America to it’s core.
My loyalty is to my family, my friends and to all human beings who TRULY want love,peace,justice and happiness for all. My allegiance is to God, the creator who gave me life. Not to a country that has hid behind religion to devalue the worth of my life.