Who Controls the Narrative?
I’ll try and keep this brief because I’m sure everyone has been Kaepernicked out, but it looks like we’re on the tail end of the story being a major talking point, so I’d like to talk about what to in between now and the next time an athlete chooses to speak out.
First, let’s talk about Colin. He sat during a song, as is his right. The media came to him afterward. It was as non-confrontational as it was jarring for many to see. Many gasped and clutched their pearls at the horror. Many applauded. The event itself has been discussed ad nauseum. My two favorite articles on it are here and here.
Once I moved past the act itself, I was taken with the myriad responses on why he should not have done it. Here’s a non-exhaustive list:
- He’s rich
- He’s not a good QB
- He has white parents
- He’s dumb, spoiled, yadda yadda
- What about Chicago?
- He’s spitting on the military
- He’s insulting the nation
- He has the opportunity to leave if he doesn’t like it
- Neither the time nor place for it.
There are dozens of others, but it’s the last one that caught my eye. When, exactly, is the time and place? When is it okay to make a statement? Who determines that? Is there a Protest Advisory Board that grants approval to such things?
Protests have been happening, almost non-stop, over the last two years. Were any of those the right time and place? It was too aggressive in Baltimore and Ferguson, but largely ignored when LeBron and Co. gave a very measured and careful speech at the Espy’s. Where is the sweet spot? I’m open to suggestions.
Could Colin have done it differently? Sure, but odds are if you couldn’t see through his method and speak on his message, I’d guess you weren’t going to agree with him anyway. So why not just be honest and say that? Why hide behind sitting down during the anthem? Just say you disagree with him and that nobody is oppressed in the US. If you are willing to ignore his message, because of his method, it’s likely you would have ignored him for anything less than what he did.
So who does control the narrative? Why is that important to you? Will you only consider arguments if delivered in a fashion you deem acceptable? The next time someone speaks out, consider dealing with the issue on its own merits. If your argument is simply to denigrate the method of protest , the protest is probably aimed at you.