Kaepernick Redux, and more black oppression
So last month, I wrote about football player Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the 49ers, and his decision to quietly sit down for the national anthem when it’s played at the beginning of his football games. Kaepernick says his action symbolizes, for him, the black oppression in this country.
And just like that, he started a movement. Other players have joined him. Some schoolchildren have elected not to stand for the anthem. Jerseys with Kaepernick’s name are selling out of stores.
He also inspired plenty of acrimony. Many of you wanted to know what Kaepernick is doing to “solve the problem.” (Well, for one thing, he started a movement. But hold that thought.)
“Bring a solution to the problem. You have a platform you have chosen to use, now use it to teach, to encourage, to bring change!” wrote one reader. The reader wrote of a former NFL player who used to bring gang members to the field to help deter them from a life of crime.
Others wondered why Kaepernick wasn’t throwing his money in the direction of his mouth, and you weren’t the only ones. Columnist Mickey White of the online magazine The Federalist wrote: Free advice for Kaepernick and his celebrity-lecturing friends: America has been good to you. Show some grace for the blessings you’ve been given. Give back to your community in more than just “protests” for personal gain. Write some checks, get involved. Start a charity. Use your platform to enact real change for those less fortunate than you.
A friend sent a clip by conservative news personality Tomi Lahren of The Blaze who spewed such hatred I wanted to take her down. “If this country disgusts you so much, LEAVE,” she says. Also, this gem: “Didn’t two white parents adopt you after yours weren’t willing to raise you?” Whoa. Right then I had to remove sharp objects from my surroundings. Holding the circumstances of his birth up for public ridicule crosses some terrible, frightening line. If anyone ever says something even close to that to my children, FOR ANY REASON, I’ll cut out his tongue. For reals. Even if he’s a girl.
For the record, Kaepernick recently pledged to give the first $1 million he makes this season to various organizations in underserved communities, and he also has his own foundation which supports children with heart defects. So that’s all good, but frankly, irrelevant. Here’s what’s more pressing: the vitriol with which this man has been attacked reeks of — I’m sorry, this is going to be upsetting — black oppression. Nowhere has Kaepernick said that he suffers from racism, although growing up half-black in a majority white community, I’m sure he has incidents in his past he could recount. But currently, yes, he’s a very successful, very wealthy young man. Does this somehow preclude him from complaining about racial injustice, a problem which, by the way, can’t be solved by any foundation?
This drives me crazy. A man protests black oppression, and the world yells at him to go help poor black kids. POOR BLACK KIDS ARE THE NOT THE CAUSE OF BLACK OPPRESSION. Someone should more helpfully start a foundation for mean white people, but I’m not sure that would take off.
Listen — Beyonce brings her young daughter to an awards ceremony, and prompts an online industry about how ugly the child is. That’s black oppression. Police break into an 80-year-old black woman’s house looking for her grandson, and pepper-spray her in the face when she asks questions. That’s black oppression. A police union threatens to refuse to provide security for a football game because one black man wouldn’t stand up for the national anthem. That’s black oppression. Black oppression is the fact that blacks are still a marginalized race in this country, and yes, that’s a fact, backed up by statistics and studies and history, and if you choose not to believe it, you might be one of those mean white people I mentioned.
And if that’s not enough, there’s video released this week showing a Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer shooting an unarmed black man with his hands up in the air who had been seeking help because his car broke down. Shooting him TO DEATH.
Colin Kaepernick is a football player. He’s not a member of Congress or a civil rights attorney. He throws a ball, and we as a nation have decided this skill is worth millions. Kaepernick has decided to use his stature to make a point simply by sitting down. For now, it’s enough. After all, it’s what Rosa Parks did, too.