Dancing With Racists: We All Know What This Is

One thing that frustrates me about discussions of Colin Kaepernick being black-balled by the NFL is the same thing that I find maddening about virtually every incident of racism that gains national attention. Why are all these idiots willing testify as to the purity of heart of white people that they don’t even fucking know? This phenomenon is not strictly endemic to white people. Just this morning I heard Ray Lewis take his turn reassuring us of Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti’s myopic focus on winning that prohibits any pesky racist thoughts from corrupting his decision making. Predictably, the seemingly impossible contortions people make to excuse the blatant discrimination leveled against Kap are the same as those used to excuse the officers against whom he is protesting. It’s as if the defenders of racism have grasped that “There is no such thing as racism,” is just too much lie for one sitting. So the play is to vouch iteratively as to the integrity of every cop, landlord, judge, NFL owner and politician as they are caught abusing their privilege. In the age of smartphone video and social media this must get exhausting.

There is no need to strengthen the case that Kap is being black-balled. We all know what is happening. Some of us have decided to call out the injustice, others have chosen to support it. Every argument excluding racism from the calculus that has landed Kap on the sidelines is stupid. This is America. Racism is prevalent throughout our history. We know what discrimination looks like. We’ve seen centuries of it, both legal and illegal. This is America. We study football like it’s on the final exam. We know who’s good and who’s not. We also know that black quarterbacks and coaches don’t get as many chances. Still, the arguments of those denying the racism of NFL execs are absolute. I don’t understand how anyone can float the “strictly a football decision” meritocracy crap out there approximately 128 times (That’s the number of NFL QBs not named Colin Kaepernick on preseason rosters) with a straight face.

If you contend this isn’t about race, your stance is not worth refuting. I do want to ask, how do you know? How are you certain that no NFL owner based his decision on race? I’ll even allow you the racists’ get out of jail free card — subconscious bias. Shannon Sharpe has asked over and over, how much time have you spent considering the issue that Kap is protesting? Do you acknowledge that Freddy Gray, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, or Sandra Bland were killed due to racism? How about Philando Castille? Was that a tough one, especially with the kid in the car and his girlfriend live Facebooking the whole thing? Do you feel the urge to support each of those cops despite the evidence? Well that urge is what you are denying exists among NFL owners and executives. Colin Kaepernick tried to make America confront a deadly manifestation of American racism. America refused. Instead America predictably blamed Kap. America decided to be infuriated at his form of protest and pit him against our ultimate sacred cow, the troops. When veterans began to speak out in support of Kap, America focused on his socks depicting cops as pigs. Interestingly, many of those offended support a president who refers to women as pigs. And when the NFL punished Kap in the exact way that so many fans wished they would, they now have the gall to contend that the penalty and the “crime” are unrelated.

Now no team will touch him and we are wasting our breath arguing with people who willfully ignore the obvious, leaning on the farcical construct that is post-racial America. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s not a duck because ducks went away when Obama got elected. I do not care what you would have me believe. My position is predicated on the thing most likely to be true based on the current context and centuries of evidence establishing an undeniable pattern. Kap is out of football because, wait for it, racism—the racism of owners, the racism of fans, and the racism of sponsors. Nothing is surprising about this. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was run out of the NBA for the same reason. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were forced to leave the Olympic Village in 1968 following a similar protest despite winning gold and silver medals. Ali was vilified under similar circumstances. This is what we all knew the consequences for Kap would be.

So I’m done watching the NFL. I’ve been contemplating it for some time. I enjoy watching less and less. It’s become more of a guilty pleasure anyway. I’m nearly fifty and watching young men damage their brains for my enjoyment is wrong on many levels and now it’s clear that the NFL does not consider people like me being killed by the police to be problematic. That was just the push I needed.