Last year, when Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick knelt down during the national anthem, they meant to bring attention to race relations in America, especially police brutality, social injustice, the bail system and the importance of local government elections, specifically with district attorneys, according to an ESPN.com article. Yet, there are two reasons their protest continues to actually not be addressing those issues, and two taboo thoughts people have but are afraid to say: 1) Blacks are not the innocent victims they claim to be; and 2) We now live in a hypersensitive, politically correct, society where it is no longer safe to disagree or discuss uncomfortable topics.
Blacks are not the innocent victims we claim to be. At least one article I read about the Kaepernick situation suggested that Reid and Kaepernick’s original intention was to bring attention to slavery and race relations. Well, let’s talk about that: We helped with the Enslavement Process. We led European colonists to villages to capture slaves, helped them capture slaves, and led captured Africans to the slave ships that sailed across the Atlantic to the Americas. We had also been enslaving each other for years before the Europeans introduced chattel slavery. And don’t hand me that “Yeah, but our form of slavery was different; It was more humane,” crap. Slavery is slavery. To force one’s lifestyle on others is wrong, even if the intention is to upgrade that person’s standard of living. People should always be free to choose their lifestyle. So: As there is plenty of blame to go around, we would be better off taking responsibility for our respective roles and focusing on rehabilitating our minds. Let’s just focus on unlearning the inferiority complexes we have developed and perpetuated from then until now.
While most of the problems Blacks face in this country are directly related to our not having recovered from the Enslavement Process, it is way past the time for us to have at least started rehabilitating. Our progress has been stagnated by useless church sermons and a lack of family planning–habits we learned from the Enslavement Process that we have yet to kick. A lot of our problems stem from the poverty that Slavery created. Poverty breeds contempt: Many of the crimes that cause urban Blacks to interact with police today are a direct result of the poverty that slavery created.
Further, police like many others in society are reacting to the image we perpetuate in our own communities. Think: Movies like “Ride Along,” where a Black man may be deemed to not be “tough enough” and has to prove his virility. Blacks are quick to label each other as “soft,” or “not Black,” or “not Black enough.” Then, when people treat us like we’re “bad,” or expect the worse from us, we complain that we’re being targeted. Blacks are the least diverse group of people in America, with all of our intracultural judgments about what people are supposed to do and when they’re supposed to do it. So we look kind of stupid bringing attention to a thought process and subsequent behavior pattern that we perpetuate in our own communities.
The current protest is not fair to those who gave their lives fighting in the original Civil Rights Movement. The issues we face now are not to be compared to our experiences in the 60’s and prior. True: Some racists have always remained, and Trump’s presidency has put some Whites under the belief that it’s okay to be openly racist, or to express the ideas that had to be suppressed while liberal Democrats seem to rule the day. But we are not being fair, or honest, if we act like things haven’t changed at all, especially given our tendency to accuse Blacks who try to do anything worthwhile as “not being Black.” Often, when a Black person tries to achieve and overturn a stereotype, that person is accused of “acting White,” or “trying to be better,” or my favorite–“bourgeoisie” Go figure: Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do–try to be better? We have to make up our minds–in our own communities–and treat each other fairly before we require fairness from others.
It is not fair to portray the interactions between police and some Blacks, now, as racist police officers picking off innocent Blacks one by one. These interactions are not the extension of lynching they are being portrayed to be. They are the result of unresolved poverty–the petty crimes that poverty provoke that cause police interactions. Kaepernick and others, therefore, should concentrate their efforts on resolving the poverty that causes police interactions.
In order to have the standing to put an issue on the national agenda, an individual or group must have clean hands. They must have exhausted all possible alternatives or solutions. Blacks (generally speaking of course) perpetuate poverty by over-populating our communities, producing and acting in films that depict us as hypersexualized violent creatures of bad habits, and we openly treat each other like feces. We gossip and backstab in the workplace and in our communities, like no other group of people. Then we protest for others to treat us nicely.
We now live in a hypersensitive, politically correct, society where it is no longer safe to disagree or discuss uncomfortable topics. Some sports teams opted not to come out of the locker room during the national anthem, presumably to take the pressure of off people to kneel or not, or to show some gesture of support and risk offending one way or the other. I feel sorry for Black athletes and celebrities who think kneeling is unnecessary, but who are worried about maintaining their fan base. Some players and coaches compromised by locking arms to show “unity.” They had to do something, right? Or else they would be perceived as agreeing with President Trump; which goes right back to that hypersensitive, politically correct thing I was talking about–where in order to please people and not be called a racist, you have to show some sign of submission to that which will keep hypersensitive people happy. Some have commented that this kneeling situation has put people in the position of having to choose: If you kneel or lock arms, you’re okay because it shows support; if you do nothing, you’re racist. This thinking perpetuates a dangerous dichotomy that prevents honest conversation and analysis, because it leaves everyone afraid to say how they really feel. And it prevents honest dialogue and critical analysis because it allows people to avoid addressing pertinent issues, or fault, by claiming to be offended–even by constructive criticism.
President Obama handled a question about whether refusing to stand during the national anthem is disrespectful brilliantly when addressing a veteran’s question about Kaepernick kneeling. Obama urged Kaepernick to consider the feelings of veterans and service families, and encouraged service members and their families to consider Kaepernick’s pain. That’s how you stay sane when someone’s conduct is not aligned with your expectations or desires: You critically think about their motivations and move on.
I wish celebrities would be more careful about supporting protests. They’re in a tough position: They have to be careful not to offend their fans, and want to seem interested in the same issues as their fans, but they also have employers to please–and they have their own views which undoubtedly get suppressed between trying to please the two. Black celebrities are being put in the position of kneeling or showing some other form of support, or being a called a sellout; worrying about how many social media followers they will lose, or how many less tickets they will sell if they do not appear on the “right side” of the controversy. Where is the diversity in demanding that someone agree with you or be labeled your enemy?
The current protest and so-called Black Lives Matter movement is corroding the relationship between Blacks and law enforcement, and is making race relations difficult for all Blacks. And it could not happen at a worse time–when there are natural disasters demanding the resources and attention of people and organizations in the best position to share. Biting the hands of potential allies could backfire miserably.
Kaepernick and others would be better off using their celebrity to start conversations about the root cause of issues, or using their foundations to help cure poverty. Here’s a novel idea: How about Mr. Kaepernick advising little Black boys and girls against engaging in behaviors that destroy our communities and ability to relate to each other, such as advising against engaging in irresponsible sex, and gossiping. How about Black celebrities focus on promoting family planning and birth control, as many of our problems stem from the dysfunctional families that are created when do what we were taught to do during Slavery?