Hello dear reader(s)!
I apologize, but it seems once again that I must enter the political arena after my happy little moratorium thanks to the idiotic responses to Colin Kaepernick’s protest over the treatment of people of color. The response from some of my ultra-privileged white friends (I’m white too) has been the straw that broke the camel’s back on whether I should keep them in my life. I wouldn’t unfriend over this alone, but this was just the last in a long line of racist and ignorant positions some of the people who once were my friends (but have only been social media acquaintances for years anyway) have taken.
The difference between our country and some other countries is that our country allows criticism of our country.
I am sick and tired of the people I know who have never experienced the systematic racism thinking that our country is beyond reproach. I am sick of these same people failing to see that the flag that means so much to them for the opportunities that have come from this country isn’t going to mean as much to those who have been systematically denied those opportunities. I am sick and tired of the people who do not understand that this country is not perfect, has never been perfect, and can only be a more perfect union when people stand up (or sit down, as the case may be) to make it better. I am sick and tired of people thinking that people of color in the public eye must keep out of politics and stick to performing like trained animals for their entertainment, instead of recognizing that the people like Colin Kaepernick are people who are entitled to their opinion and have every right to use whatever position they have attained through their talent and hard work to amplify their voice.
And I have to be honest here, if I were a person of color, I can’t really say that the flag or the anthem would mean shit to me either. When your country uses your ancestors as slaves, then keeps them from voting, from attaining an education, from getting a good job, and from living anywhere but the shittiest neighborhoods legally until just a generation or two ago…why should the flag of that country be revered? When the country finally attempts to get rid of the laws that openly discriminate against people of color due to the Constitution but then replaces those laws with a discriminatory drug war, enforced disproportionately in the neighborhoods where minorities are heavily concentrated due to those laws that allowed housing discrimination until the drug war took place to keep them there…why should the flag of that country be sacred? When schools in those neighborhoods are allowed to crumble as the richer, whiter neighborhoods get brand new schools, making it even harder for the people born into those neighborhoods to get out…why respect the flag of the country that engages in that? And when those neighborhoods have no infrastructure, no opportunities for a legal economy, police who at best are ill-equipped and reactionary trying to deal with it, and at at worst are downright racist murderers…why should you love that country and the flag it represents?
And don’t even get me started on the false belief that sitting down in protest during the national anthem is somehow disrespectful to veterans.
Veterans who supposedly fight for what that flag represents should understand that the whole point of fighting for this flag is that we are one of the few nations on this planet that allows our citizens to criticize it. Otherwise, what is the point of fighting for it? For the imported Chinese goods you can buy? For the McMansions? For the NFL? For what? They say they fight for freedom. Well then, put up or shut up. This is the very freedom they fought for.
And if you really want to go there, we can talk about 70 years since a war was actually fought for our freedom. We can talk about our economic and imperialist invasions. We can talk about the ridiculous sums of money that go to the military for invasions into countries that just cause more problems while taking money away from the things that could actually help level the playing field for our citizens. We can talk about the economics of perpetual war, and who is actually profiting. We can talk about our outrage over what Assad has done to the people of Syria, and how ISIS is even worse, and how that is bullshit when we turn a blind eye to the systematic, state-sponsored violence against our own people. We can talk about how if our veterans can’t handle someone sitting for a song, it doesn’t bode well for them being able to handle someone trying to kill them on the battlefield.
Of course, the people throwing a fit over Colin Kaepernick’s protest are conservative. The very people who love to run around and shout “Freedom of Speech!” anytime anyone calls out their racism, sexism, or other bigotry. The ones who shout about political correctness anytime someone tells them it isn’t cool to use the N word. This is blatant hypocrisy. He sat down to make an important point, and is vilified. They shout their hate and when called out on it point to their beloved and misunderstood First Amendment. Hypocrites.
You can call him a bad quarterback (although I would love to see you do better, armchair quarterback), you can say his team sucks (I do not like the 49ers at all), you can say he is overpaid. But if you call him un-American, you have no idea what America is supposed to be about.
He sat down to during a song you don’t even know the words to, to make an important point about our failure to work toward what the flag should represent.
And until we start trying to live up to our ideals and what the flag is supposed to stand for, I will sit too.
Featured image by Mike Morbeck.