Everyone else has weighed in, so I might as well do so as well…..
If you missed the news, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Collin Kaepernick has stated he will not stand when the national anthem is played before games, because he believes that the flag represents a nation that is racist and oppressive toward blacks and other minorities. Kaepernick is of mixed heritage, and he was raised by white parents. He went to the University of Nevada, which is in the city of Reno. He burst onto the scene with the 49ers in 2013, replacing the regular QB in the middle of the season and leading the team to the Super Bowl, where they cane up 2 play short of winning. Since then, his play has regressed significantly, and he was benched last season. Predictably, the reaction to his stand is mainly on the extremes – his supporters believe he is a hero, his detractors think he is the personification of evil.
One thing I like about all this – nobody is talking about North Carolina’s bathroom laws anymore. I also like the fact that he feels so strongly about this that he is willing to take a stand – or a seat, if you will – that carries a significant risk to his reputation.
On the other hand, I think there are better ways to address the concern. There is no need for “awareness” – if you truly believe there is no racism and oppression in America, you are either a stupid idiot or have encased yourself in a bubble of denial so thick that it has to be hard to function in society. The stance Kaepernick is taking is merely calling America racist and oppressive. That does nothing to reverse the racism and oppression. I would rather he DO something – organize and fund an improvement project for an oppressed school or neighborhood. Recruit friends and teammates of multiple races and talk about that specific plight in the context of oppression while making improvements. Organize a gathering of people of all races to talk about their personal experiences with other races, with a moderator that refuses to let the discussion deteriorate into insults and name-calling. Come out and denounce the “movements” that are doing nothing more than committing acts of violence instead of trying to affect real change.
You never know what someone else has experienced and can’t tell them how to address those experiences. I spend most of my waking hours in integrated environments and have very few first-hand accounts of racism or oppression. My wife has filled in some gaps for me. She refers to a phenomenon referred to as DWB – Driving While Black. This is when you get pulled over for no other reason than prejudiced suspicions of a police officer. Our nephew, who is 29 years old, has 2 kids and is married to their mother, and he and his wife both have good jobs, very little debt, and drive nice vehicles. There was no reason for him to get pulled over that day, but he interacted with the officer in a calm, mature manner. The officer eventually let him continue on, and there was no incident. That, my wife told me, is DWB. The officer must have thought, “black guy in a nice car. Must be a drug dealer or something.” I was upset to hear it. Another nephew sells cars, and he’s extremely good at it. A white woman came into his dealership, but wanted nothing to do with him. He kindly offered to bring another salesman to help her, and that’s what she wanted.
I think this is the stupidest crap in the world. Racism is the ultimate expression of ignorance. No, forget that, it’s pure stupidity. If you think the tone of your skin makes you a higher life form than someone with a different skin tone. YOU ARE STUPID.
So yes, I understand what Kaepernick is upset about. I just think there needs to be more work on solutions than words to eradicate this problem.