When I had the chance to I didn’t put my body in the street. So you should get your ass off the couch while you still have time.
In late August I was in Seattle with my wife and staying with friends at the same time that there happened to be a Black Lives Matter march planned. The march was going to start in the same part of town where we planning to spend most of our Saturday doing some shopping and stocking up on stuff that we can’t get in the Czech Republic where we live and work.
I don’t think of myself as an activist seeing as though I’ve never taken part in a demonstration of any kind. I’m the lazy sort. You know, preaching from my various social media pulpits not that I have much of a congregation anyway. And I’m particularly certain that I’ve never successfully converted anyone. I donate when I can to causes and charities I believe in, but I’ve never stood up to be counted in the fight.
So, there we were, having a breather at Westlake Center in Downtown Seattle. While we sat we took in a gospel choir performance that was taking place as part of the rally that would precede the march. My wife and I had discussed the march and seeing as though I am the more politically vocal of the two of us she assumed I would want to take part because of the good fortune of being in town at the same time.
For reasons that I am now quite ashamed of, I rejected the offer to stick around. I could have cited the fatal clash that had only recently occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia as a reason to be concerned about safety but if I’m being truthful, I was lazy. We left and went to Capitol Hill to meet with a friend for dinner.
I am comfortable with admitting my mistakes but I rarely cling to regrets. This moment in time, however, is a rare occasion. I had a shot at putting my money where my mouth is, or rather, putting my body where my mouth is and I blew it for no discernible or defensible reason. I volunteered to make myself a hypocrite.
After Trumpito’s latest statement essentially calling NFL free-agent quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick a S.O.B. and calling for other protesters to be fired followed shortly after by un-inviting NBA superstar and champion Stephen Curry to the White House, the boundaries outlining what his administration will tolerate have come into even sharper focus, not that they needed to be any clearer. I’m going to take a crack here at paraphrasing what Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote in his lightning bolt of an essay: Trump’s whiteness is the core of his success and the reason he is president now as well as the defining principle behind many, if not all of his policy decisions and aspirations. And it has not escaped notice that people of color typically receive the fiercest of his criticisms when they voice dissent.
But lest we forget, the NFL has similarly rejected Kaep’s silent protest that is both completely legal and historically resonant of protests by other athletes who didn’t hesitate to give voice to their views. The single most important thing Kaep has in common with other athletes of note who’ve visibly demonstrated and were summarily punished in one form or another is that all of them were black. If Aaron Rodgers had kneeled the response would have been completely different, don’t kid yourself.
The league’s blacklisting of Kaep is because he is black, not just because he kneeled. The statistics don’t lie, he is demonstrably better than the glut of journeymen quarterbacks who have jobs right now. And anyone who determines that they can’t simply give up football frankly doesn’t care about racial equality or they don’t care as much about equality as they claim to.
I once wrote that many Trump supporters voted him into office for reasons other than race and religion. But I’ll more than happily walk that back now. Those who voted for him were able to do so with a clear conscience because they either don’t care about social justice or because they even wish to see the progress we’ve made rolled back or erased altogether. There can be no more equivocating, at least not on my part. Blindly supporting the NFL or castigating its players that choose to protest at this moment in time is the same thing as saying that social justice doesn’t mean that much to you.
Your choices are as follows: You can make your support of the players who kneel public and widely known or you can boycott the NFL.
NFL fans who claim to be invested in social justice and equality have an opportunity to put their bodies in the way. But many if not most will do what is most comfortable for them. If they give into their need to feel comfort instead of engendering progress it’ll amount to nothing short of an endorsement of our society’s treatment of people of color. A society that would stymie constitutionally-protected free-speech with regards to racial inequality in a league where the majority of the bodies that are destroyed and brains damaged are black and the majority of the viewers who derive pleasure and owners who profit are white.
If just sitting out isn’t enough for you:
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS CAMP is a free campaign for youth fully funded by Colin Kaepernick to raise awareness on higher education, self empowerment, and instruction to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios.