Ever since the tragic death of Tragic death of Trayvon Martin in 2012,with every birthday that passes I take the time to reflect on the grieving families of those whose lost loved ones to the actions of state forces. On Martin’s birthday, just a day before mine, he would have been turning the same age that I am today so I can’t help but grieve for his soul. A lot of us do, but sadly there’s no ‘proper’ way to grieve, morn or even show discontent with the way that things are in a country that refuses to accept its role in this foul play, murder of innocent lives lost.
A brave and influential athlete asked this question, What’s the most respectful thing that you can do while in disagreement with the nation? He got his answer and acted on behalf of all of us in a bold statement that gave me pride, shifting the discomfort from our plates onto those who thought they were safe. Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem, as a symbol of protest for the lack of action being taken by the government to correct the trend of police brutality against black men and women in the United State, many of whom were losing their lives as a result of simple traffic stops or while walking down the street.
Hundreds of people yelled, “That’s the most disrespectful thing that you can do!” To take a knee was simply being in disagreement with the county by bowing out of participating in the national anthem. Kaepernick
consulted with veterans, other athletes and sport team professionals about the choice to do so. It’s a sore spot for me because there’s so much about the foundation of this country that I disagree with as a Black person that I don’t even feel comfortable calling myself an “African-American” nor do I feel comfortable to call myself “African”due to the foundational history of this country. It’s not fair and its difficult to voice, but on a late work afternoon I heard my case explained thoroughly in a way that made me proud. I also got the chance to appreciate the opposing view as a recently graduated Black female lawyer and an experienced white male campaign manager debated over the case of Colin Kaepernick
He went on to explain, over the past couple of years the race thing has gotten so bad, he complained, “Now I can’t go anywhere without getting uncomfortable and my race becoming an issue.” Well join the club, I thought to myself as she responded, “For every year of my life over the past 3 decades I’ve felt that same discomfort, I’ve been called a niggar to my face,” at that point another coworker walked in, “Well this is a fun conversation” he joked as he grabbed what he needed out of the refrigerator and left.
I stayed planted in my seat, invigorated by the exchange of dialogue as I sat on the other end of the office.
As the conversation got more heated, my supervisor who wasn’t at all interested in participating found a reason to leave the room. ,
My coworker, who’d worked for years as a campaign manager ,completely disagreed with Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the national anthem. There are other ways to show your concern, he argued as he listed the many veterans he’d known who were deeply offended by Kaepernick’s actions. The national anthem is a song for them.
He wasn’t trying to disrespect veteran’s, he was drawing concern to a very important systematic issue in the county. Colin actually consulted with veterans prior to taking a knee during the game, to be sure that his actions were just as respectful as they were impactful. Taking an innocent life without cause is a disgusting thing to do. For anyone to try to find a respectful response to such a horrendous crime is an honorable and humble gesture for any person to do. Kappernick knew he had to take this into consideration
So he’s not allowed to use his platform to voice his opinion? The lawyer responded, “Yes you’re allowed to make make millions of dollars for us with you’re talent but no you’re not allowed to voice your opinion, not even in a silent, nonviolent form of symbolic action.” She sarcastically stated. It was true, Kaepernick was doing his part as a player so wouldn’t he be allowed to voice any concerns he had? Why wouldn’t his peers, couches and fans be welcoming of his concerns?
“I don’t go to the game to see that, I go to be entertained” My coworker refuted, I come to the games with my family to have fun. This was a view I understood but what fun is there in any activity that ignores the loss of life? If a person is in a powerful position to change this trend then the choice not to do so is not only irresponsible, its evil. He continued, “He lost his platform he lost”
She argued, “He didn’t lose”
He debated on, “Really? Well he’s no longer in the NFL, he’s no longer making millions and he can no longer use that platform”
But he did use it, and he used it to it’s full capacity, arguably until it was no longer useful for him. Now people all of the world, from men in the NFL to girls in their grade school softball teams take a knee in protest of police brutality. Taking a knee during the national anthem has become a worldwide form of protest that was established during one man’s sacrifice. Instead of continuing to fill the pockets of those who belittle he and his community’s humanity, Kaepernick now uses his time to raise money for non-profit organizations fighting against police brutality and to teach inner city kids how to avoid conflict with the police in schools throughout the nation. He’s revolutionized nonviolent protest in order to become an ultimate modern example of sacrifice and selflessness. There are so many famous and wealthy blacks in athletics and entertainment that we beg to use their platforms to raise awareness and incite change by taking a clear stance against hundreds of incidents of police brutality, mass incarceration and other racial issues that dangerously, dramatically effect our communtiy, the communities that support them and fuel their fame and wealth. For a person to value their platform over its function to the benefit of their community is a skewed way of thinking. To whom much is given, much as required (Luke 12:48), for those who have a seat at the able to incite change and refuse to use it, they’re missing a valuable opportunity.
After going back and forth for a solid hour, both parties left the office but before she did I told her how proud I was of her and her ability to voice her opinion in a stern yet eloquent way. Too many of us shrink back at the opportunity to voice our opinion on topics such as this and hearing her do so with power and strength really made my heart smile.