It is not something I would have done or would ever do. I will stand for the National Anthem each and every time without question or hesitation. America and I have a complicated relationship; where I can love her without liking everything she does. Protest runs through her veins and is an inescapable truth regarding her greatness. You can feel the Constitution working when Americans are most uncomfortable.
Colin Kaepernick is making much of America uncomfortable, and that is good.
But let’s not suggest that all protest is created equal. The methodology is just as important as the message. Sitting down during the national anthem may inspire conversation and “bring awareness” (which is overvalued these days) yet ultimately changes nothing. No substantive change or progress will come from this symbolic gesture.
We’ll battle with memes and misguided insults on social media, burn our own jerseys and simply become further entrenched in our opinions. Nothing will change in the judicial system or in the training methods of police officers in various cities around the nation. There is no bill to pass or policy recommendation to ratify. This is highly publicized and discussed symbolism and nothing else. Rosa Parks refusing to sit at the back of the bus meant nothing without the subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott and slow journey to the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
Do not mistake symbolism for a meaningful catalyst for change. Yes, we’re now all “talking” about patriotism, observances of the national anthem…and that is where it will end.
At the same time, the response to Kaepernick will in many ways affirm how he’s right on the issue.
The recent DOJ reports on systemic and racially-influenced mistreatment of African-Americans in both Baltimore and Ferguson are real and reprehensible. Unfortunately, we as a nation will put more energy in trying to rebuke Kaepernick than redress the injustices in those reports…which was Kaepernick’s most salient point. America will demonstrate she is more concerned with one man sitting down for the national anthem than standing up to the issues he’s raised. We are more obsessed with being right on Facebook than righteous in our treatment of all Americans.
Colin Kaepernick in his attempt to “bring awareness” to the issues of police brutality and a flawed justice system also brings awareness to some other unflattering truths about America. The following are some observations I’ve made in the past 7 days and it took an NFL QB to help put a lot of it in perspective. In that, Kaepernick does deserve credit, regardless of how some may dislike his chosen venue to voice his disapproval of America.
I have come to notice that when people agree with a “controversial” stance, they will scream “Free Speech” even though it doesn’t apply and remind you that it is patriotic to fight for (X) to better America. I have come to notice that when people disagree with a “controversial” stance, those same people don’t scream “Free Speech” (even though it still doesn’t apply). But will instead scream for that “controversial” person to shut up and go away.
I have come to notice for some that it is ok to shamefully disrespect the President of the United States and still call yourself a patriot. And those same people will tell you how “despicable” and “unpatriotic” one football player is…for not respecting the national anthem.
I have come to notice that some athletes are expected to answer for not having their hand over their heart during the national anthem, and others not..after laughing through it at the same event and ceremony.
I have come to notice that people forget that the “Star-Spangled Banner” is a salute to the flag, and have no problem turning that same banner into bikinis, muscle shirts and bandanas.
Because of Colin Kaepernick, I also came to notice how people can accept a billionaire telling us that America is going to hell, while simultaneously refusing to accept a millionaire explain how some in America are already there. I’ve realized with amazement, that same billionaire can be on the precipice of becoming president after verbally disrespecting POWs generally and Sen. John McCain specifically; yet the millionaire is shunned for “not respecting the military” by saying nothing.
I’ve come to notice that American patriotism has different standards for different people and highlighting this fact is “un-American” depending on the orator.
I will always stand for the national anthem and pay tribute to the flag. I will always love America, with full knowledge of how she does a lot of things I simply don’t like and must not be excused. If you are more bothered by Colin Kaepernick sitting for the national anthem than what has been highlighted in the Ferguson and Baltimore DOJ reports, you have made his point for him better than he himself.
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