Why America Hates Black People That Take A Stance

Colin Kaepernick San Fransisco 49ers Quarterback

In 1950 my great uncle was drafted to serve in the United States Army and fought bravely in the Korean war. While he didn’t talk too much about surviving on the battlefield, he did talk about life being enlisted as a black soldier during those times.

I remember a talk we had at a family cookout where he told me about the bigotry he endured, being spat on by white troops, and the many altercations he had that often ended with fist fights and bloodshed. He mentioned hearing about Charles Bussey who supposedly was denied the Medal of Honor by an ignorant Colonel that refused to recommend the award to Bussey because he was black. He vividly remembered coming back home, here in the United States, and how the bigotry and oppressive laws remained.

I had other family members who served in the military during WWII and Vietnam who also battled racism while serving and regardless of the fact they protected the liberties of America and aided in spreading democracy — -at home, they were still just “another nigger.”

If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature, it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves.”

Freedom?

Written in 1776, abolitionist Thomas Day wrote a letter and stated, “If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature, it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves.”

While 1776 is long in the past, the brandishing whip in many ways remains intact.

The past few days I have come across memes and articles all over social media talking about the soldiers that sacrifice so much to protect our liberties here and how San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a disgrace by disrespecting them and being unpatriotic because he refuses to stand and honor our nation.

While I understand how Kaepernick’s sentiments may seem to be unpatriotic, my mind keeps drifting back to those eerie conversations I used to have with my great uncle. It was a huge contradiction that he fought for a country, fought for other people’s liberation and interest, only to live most of his life under the boot of an oppressive America towards black people.

Many proud Americans are up in arms with Kaepernick’s action and statements. To me, it is extremely troubling that so many people refuse to acknowledge, recognize, and empathize with his position.

Are things overtly as bad as they were when my uncle served? No, we have had some progress in race relations. It is now crass and unacceptable to publicly use offensive racist language or deny someone opportunities because of the color of their skin. After 43 preceding Presidents of the United States (219 years), we finally have Barack Obama, the first black POTUS, elected back in 2008. Despite this “progress,” people of color are still struggling to fully live the freedoms that our flag flies high for and represents.

When we talk about oppressive systems in today’s society, we must recognize and acknowledge our country’s history. In my last LinkedIn Pulse I wrote about the history of America, so there is no need for me to go to great lengths again. I will say that what makes America unique is that it is the only nation that was started with slavery since its birth. This fact has shaped the racial undertone then which we find present today.

The modern day plantation is the criminal-justice system and it’s overseer is the law enforcement officer. Some people don’t believe this to be true…but wait…

Yet, when we see how law enforcement engage with white civilians we get…

Subtle difference right? (Sarcasm alert)

The above clearly depicts a difference in treatment and officers temperament. Fortunately all these people survived; however, there are many that didn’t.

We know that all cops aren’t bad — — in fact, I believe many of them joined the force because they want to bring change to the community and protect people. That doesn’t change the fact that the system in which they work under has internalized biases, built upon a framework of racism. These same biases creep into many institutions, affecting us all.

Now before you say, “White people are killed more often by police officers than blacks?” Yes, that is true. However, when we adjust for population blacks are killed at a much higher rate….around five times higher. In fact, black people makeup roughly 12% of the national population, but account for more than 30% of all fatal killings with law enforcement.

But, “Black people are violent! Look at the black on black crime…the murders in Chicago and every other black community. Where are the Black Lives Matters movement there?”

I’m not going to front and say that there isn’t high crime rates in impoverished black communities because there is. But let’s not forget that since 1982, 64% of all mass shootings in America are heinously committed by white men. More than 50% of rapists and 74% of child molesters are white. White people use hard drugs five times more than both black and Hispanic people, but it is black and Hispanics that receive 10 times longer sentencing for the same possession. Honestly, this is beyond the point.

Black- on-black crime and law enforcement-on-civilians are not the same issues!

This is what Colin Kaepernick is standing, in this case, sitting against.

Our country has been floating in a whirlwind of contradiction since it’s inception. There is a difference in treatment towards people of color. We all know that this is true, but there is a large segment of America that allows their conditioned mind to not understand the issue and acknowledge the reality some of us face.

Kaepernick is not the first major athlete to take a stance against oppressive forces — -he is simply joining a long list of others who decided to take a stance against injustice and oppressive systems.

Muhammad Ali did it when he refused to be drafted for the Vietnam war. His passport was stripped away and he was denied the right to travel abroad for work.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised the “black power” salute during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Both athletes were ostracized, received death threats, and treated like criminals for using their platform to raise awareness about the plight their people were experiencing.

Peter Norman (Aus), Tommie Smith , John Carlos, 1968 Olympics in Mexico City

Famed athlete and brilliant artist, Paul Robeson, was a great leader of the civil rights movement and spoke up about the injustices of black people in America. He was classified a communist for speaking up. The list goes on.

To some it is a moral crime for black people to speak up or demonstrate against American values. I ask when have American values ever been fully granted to us?

I support Colin Kaepernick and anyone who decides to take a stance against injustice, oppression, bias, misogyny, hate, ignorance, and all the inequalities that hold this country back.

To be clear I am grateful for all the women and men, like those in my family, who protect us and our liberties so we can flourish as Americans. But aren’t these the same freedoms and liberties that Colin Kaepernick is exercising in not standing during the National Anthem?

Our country is supposed to be about freedom, liberty, and justice for all — but we have to stop talking about it, pledging to it, and start to actually live it and ensure that ALL are included. Once we get to that point, I believe that is when America will finally become great.

So, why does America hate black people who take a stance? I could say because of systemic racism, implicit biases, or certain people’s lack of empathy. Maybe because we have had 400 years of conditioning that associates black people as subservient. Could it be because some believe that black people have nothing to stand up against and that we need to stop playing victims and puppets of liberal democrats in a post racial society? Or maybe because while we have had some progress, the fabric of our country has not evolved.

But honestly, I don’t know….so why don’t you tell me.

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Louis Byrd is the Principal and Brand Strategist at Mellie Blue Branding.

Mellie Blue is a cross-cultural brand consultancy that helps engineering and tech companies enhance their brand systems with cultural competence.