Capin’ for Kaepernick

29 Aug

 

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Full disclosure: Sometimes I arrive to sporting events late on purpose just so I can avoid the National Anthem. I stand during it because it is easier than having  to address each person about my reason for not standing for not doing so. Nevertheless, my face intuitively becomes a scowl as I stand still with my hands behind my back. Normally I just think of every black person ever treated unjustly in the name of the American flag.

I don’t celebrate the 4th of July. If I can help it, I leave the country as to not be inundated with all the patriotism that can’t  be faked on my end. In fact, I find it odd that any black person celebrates this day as a holiday, because blacks were not free citizens on the 4th of July, 1776. I also secretly root against the United States during the World Cup, cheering instead for the African countries–especially the Ghana, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast teams.

During the 2 years that I taught social studies in Oklahoma, I was pretty conflicted upon having to needle my students out of their desks in order to “Pledge to the Flag.” I could understand a student not wanting to stand, but I also expressed to them that it was a “matter of respect.” And besides that, it kept the higher ups off my ass, in case I was being observed for the day. The last thing I needed was a controversy like that on my teacher evaluation. It was hard enough being the only black in my social studies department. In my mind I was picking my battles.

I remember the first debate I had with white people about the National Anthem issue. It was 1996. I was a junior on my high school varsity baseball team. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf had just taken a lot of flak for doing the very same thing Colin Kaepernick is getting shit for. The only difference is Abdul-Rauf had not been observing the anthem for quite some time. Someone from the media finally noticed it and it became this huge shit storm–even for back then.

Even then my white teammates were railing against this kind of action, and me being 1 of 3 blacks on the team, was the only one to be a contrarian. I spent the whole bus ride to Waco, Texas, arguing with these guys about why anyone of color would feel “oppressed” or marginalized. The irony is that these same teammates were known to make “jokes” about me giving up a front bus seat to the white players, or calling my attention to any passing cotton field we may have driven by.

We got off the bus and got our asses waxed, and a few of the seniors blamed me for causing a distraction from the approaching game. I may or may not have taken delight in getting that L. I can say that it was the first time that I’d had the thought that maybe baseball wasn’t as important to me as I’d originally thought.

Any time a dissenter expresses their displeasure at the rampant injustices that occur in this country, the same miseducated scholars give the same canned responses. The obvious one is that “men and women gave up their lives so that you can have the freedom to show your displeasure.” To which I want to say , “Word? Then why are you so bent out of shape about it then?” It almost seems a slap in their faces to not invoke this freedom that they so dearly fought for. The other canned response tends to be along the lines of “America. Like it or leave it.” I find this to be an irrational reaction at best, at worst, an insane one.

Do you know how crazy this sounds? The majority of blacks in this country did not ask to be here. Racist whites who say “If you don’t like it here, then leave.” are akin to kidnappers who after 20 years, go down into their basement and say to their victims, “Well I know I took you away from your home and loved ones, but I just realized that I’ve done something horrible. Your presence in my basement is nothing but a reminder of the bad deeds I have done, and because of that, I need you to leave my house. No. I’m not going to give you a ride back to your house. Your family probably has already given up on you being alive. Yeah I have the obituary clipping in my scrapbook. Wanna see it? I doubt they even live in the same neighborhood I snatched you from. Sorry. It is time for you to pull yourself by the bootstraps like I did, and make something of yourself. Good luck out there. The world is a terribly unfair place.”

First of all, do you know how difficult it is to emigrate to another country? Half the problems in the world are due to tensions stemming from peoples of other nations seeking asylum in safer parts of the world. Even if they manage to get through all the paperwork, if they have children, it is almost impossible to make it happen without a lot of money.

Secondly, blacks and other “minorities” helped build this nation and took the proverbial hometown discount. Why should WE leave? How about all you bigots pull a Joseph Smith and go live in a deserted part of the world where you are free to be homophobic, racists and sexists? Have at it. You can start your own Bigotopia. Need money to do this? Start a Kickstarter in the same fervent manner that you do for cops who kill citizens and lose their jobs.

I absolutely love controversies like these because it becomes a nice filter to smoke out all the closeted bigots. They lose their shit when they find out that people don’t think the United States is the greatest country in the world. They trip over themselves to express their anger at these dissatisfied ingrates. I find it hilarious. My white friend base on Facebook has been cut in half, and its a glorious feeling. At least once a week, I find myself saying out loud , “Tell me what you really think Devin from Duncanville, TX. I always knew you were racist!”

The worst part of all this is that I now have to stick up for Colin “fricking” Kaepernick. This guy went from being one of my favorite football players to watch, to stinking up the joint, to becoming one of my modern day heroes. I don’t care if he plays another down in the NFL (and he may not), what this man has done is beyond brave. This young “spoiled” millionaire has put his earning power on the line to express his displeasure at what flies in the face of common decency. This is no time to be on the fence about this. It is impossible for me to understand how someone can look themselves in the mirror and not stand up against the unjust and immoral killings of American “citizens”.

The only rationalization for this is that blacks really were not meant to be part of the system, and that the abolition of slavery threw a kink into the way this country was supposed to run. Maybe blacks should just embrace the fact that the rules were not meant for us to thrive and prosper. Maybe blacks should consider the legal speak of the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery and indebted servitude “except as punishment for crime.” Perhaps it is time for blacks to consider why blacks are only 12 % of the U.S. population, but account for over 60 % of the prison population.

Enough of the double speak. Either this country is trying to live up to its original ideals, or those ideals aren’t really for everyone. Either way, let’s be honest and transparent about what you white Americans want. I can deal with xenophobia, racism, and prejudice. It is the hypocrisy that grinds my  gears. If you don’t want us around just say so, and we can figure it out from there. But white America can’t keep asking why black Americans why they feel oppressed if  they are not going to at least try to create a better America. It is dishonest and an insult to black people’s intelligence.

BM

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