Miami Dolphins kneeling before a game. Photo courtesy of si.com
MY ONE AND A HALF CENTS ON NFL PLAYERS AND OTHER ATHLETES TAKING A STAND AGAINST RACIAL INJUSTICES AND OTHER ISSUES BEFORE GAMES
It’s been another polarizing issue in a series of polarizing issues in this country as of late.
And it would be ignorant of me to not offer my views of Colin Kaepernick and other athletes, from the NFL and elsewhere, kneeling to protest police brutality and other racial issues while the national anthem is playing.
So here’s how I feel about it all…
I have family who fought and died for that starred and striped flag.
My great-grandfather fought in World War I
My uncle was killed in the Korean War; it’s been 67 years and his remains are still somewhere in North Korea instead of the Los Angeles National Cemetery where it belongs.
My father fought in the Vietnam War.
Which is why I personally choose to stand for “The Star Spangled Banner”, my attitude being “Might as well.”
I am also an African-American male who has encountered racism, such as being profiled several times by the Santa Monica, CA police during the 1990s, including getting handcuffed in fromt of my house because I “fit the description” of a stalker.
I have been denied employment because of my being black, like when after a great phone interview for a job, I was told that it was being offered to someone else because “He asked first” upon laying eyes on me.
I was called the “N-word” on numerous occasions during my early childhood years by quite a few white kids in the then-rural community of Woodcrest outside of Riverside, CA, and hearing that word a few times in Santa Monica.
I have experienced various slights and microagressions that, looking back, I recognize that’s what I went through during my teenage and young adult years.
Of course it’s impossible to forget the many instances of African-American men being brutalized and murdered in the hands of the local authorities; incidents like the Rodney King beating and subsequent acquittal of those four Euro-Caucasian cops who did that dirty work – which triggered then L.A. Rebellion/Riots 25 years ago – and the murders of guys like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray come to mind.
So what does this have to do with NFL players kneeling before games – I know you’re asking that right about now…
In a nutshell, I support the athletes.
I know that many folks – mostly of the white and conservative persuasion, curiously enough – are foaming at the mouth over the kneeling, the arm-linking and the fist-raising, saying that while they have a right to protest, to do so on the job should be a crime punishable by virtual condemnation to hell.
What those folks don’t understand is that people like my uncle died so that Kaepernick and the rest of those guys in the National Football League,
And the National Basketball Association as I’m sure there will be quite a bit of kneeling at Staples Center and other arenas when that season opens in a few weeks – and every other sports league for that matter,
Can kneel, raise fists, or not come out of the locker room at all like the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks have been doing during the WNBA Finals.
To frown on that is not only a case of free speech,
But a case of denying human rights.
Of course this issue is nothing new, Tommie Smith and John Carlos getting expelled from the Olympic Games in 1968 after displaying their Black Power salutes on the medal stand.
As well as Muhammad Ali getting stripped of his heavyweight title the year before after refusing to be inducted into the army (and undoubtedly getting sent to Vietnam), losing three years of his boxing prime before the Supreme Court overturned his five-year prison sentence.
All of these incidents have one thing in common:
The protagonists’ color of their skin.
And as a black man, I feel I have no choice but to stand in solidarity to those taking a stand against racism, racist injustice, and the hypocrisy that American has exuded to those of its citizens who are not white, male, straight, wealthy, conservative, Christian, or any combination of those six attributes.
Though I wouldn’t kneel during the national anthem due to my family’s involvement in defending that American flag,
While there are many people, particularly African-Americans, who are boycotting NFL games due to this issue,
I would go if I had the opportunity to go to a Rams or Chargers (the two teams in my area) game.
But I would wear a #7 Kaepernick jersey in solidarity.
It would be very wrong to not give these athletes my support in this issue.
Not as long as there are millions of people in these United States – and other countries – that still see me as inferior and a “lesser” due to the color of my skin.
Two Los Angeles Rams making like Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Photo courtesy of sbnation.com