Before we launch into full on Black Lives Matter mode by way of a brief history lesson and a breakdown of the system, how is everyone? How’s the dog? The kids? Is the fish still alive (probably not)? I haven’t written since July and it feels like an eternity. I’ve missed you guys. Hey, family!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, still own a flip phone like my mama, or refuse to watch the news (which I don’t blame you for at this point), you know Donald Trump caused a firestorm over the weekend by referring to NFL players who choose to kneel during the National Anthem as a form of protest “sons of bitches.” Yes, your president called citizens of his nation who choose to use their First Amendment right to peacefully protest those words. I’m confident he’ll be saying the n-word by Christmas. The -er one.
Trump’s words sparked outrage throughout the entire NFL organization and their fans alike, even causing some of his supporters to be “shocked” and make comments such as, “This isn’t what I voted for.” (Sis, you knew exactly what you voted for. But that’s a different post for a different day.) To make matters worse, he then decided to come for Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, rescinding his invite to the White House because he had yet to respond. Basically, homie got left on read in real life, couldn’t handle it, and did what he always does – ran to the Twitter machine to pout. This caused NBA players and fans, no matter what team or squad, to come together like the Bloods and Crips did during the Rodney King riots and caused even more frustration and confusion throughout the nation: “Why does the president care about something as trivial as what players come to the White House and don’t?” “He didn’t complain about Tom Brady not coming.” “What about helping Puerto Rico?” “What about North Korea?” “Hey man, FLINT STILL DOESN’T HAVE CLEAN WATER!”
In short, Trump’s weekend was trash.
Unlike others, I’m not frustrated or shocked by Mr. Trump’s words or actions. This is exactly what I expect from someone who ran a campaign on sexism, fascism, and racism and was able to win with help from fragile people who sadly share his ideology. These are the exact type of events I knew would unfold the November night I, a black woman, went to bed with a knot in my stomach because I knew our next commander in chief couldn’t care a bit about my race or gender. I can’t be frustrated or upset with this man because this is exactly what I expect from him – worse even.
What I am frustrated with is the people who are making statements like, “I don’t like Trump, but completely agree with him on this issue. How disgraceful. You need to respect your country! You should respect your flag! People died for your rights!” Sound familiar? One of your high school friends probably has a mom on Facebook who has said something similar to this. Her name is probably something like Tina. And is Tina wrong? Not necessarily. No matter how ugly our past and present may be, I believe America is still a nation that has afforded its citizens the rights and opportunities to be anything they want to be and do whatever they want to do. And yes, there are countless of men and women who have laid down their lives, fought, and are still fighting for us to have those rights protected. However, this type of American Dream doesn’t always feel as in reach for certain citizens of this nation; i.e. black and brown folks or anybody who doesn’t fit the typical description of what comes to mind when you think ‘Merica: White, Heterosexual, Conservative, and Christian. Let’s face it. People who aren’t able to check all four of those boxes are often ostracized and left without a seat at the table in certain areas. The killings of unarmed black men, Muslim bans, and the DACA decision are just a few issues lately that have been dismissed with “shut and be thankful because people died for you!” attitudes.
NFL kneeling protests originated in response to the oppression of people of color in the U.S., mostly fueled by the killings of unarmed black men at the hands of the police and the injustice that followed. They’re not protesting the country, the flag, or the “Star Spangled Banner.” When Colin Kaepernick and other players take a knee on the field, in no way are they saying, “I hate my country. I think the National Anthem is stupid. I’m spitting on veterans’ graves by kneeling because I don’t care.” No. What they are saying is this: “I love my country, but I am acknowledging that it is not perfect. I want change. I want better for my people. Show me that this country is committed to liberty and justice for ALL of its citizens like it promises in the pledge, not just a few. Until change comes, I must take this stand by kneeling.”
Do you think the Freedom Riders believed that food really tasted better at the lunch counter? Or that Rosa Parks was literally so tired that she couldn’t walk a few extra feet to the back of the bus? Or that blacks really believed that water from the white water fountain was cooler and tastier so they dared to take a sip? No. These people were just so fed up with the system that they decided to take stands in the most striking ways they saw fit. History certainly repeats itself, and that’s what we’re seeing in live action at NFL games in 2017.
So for all my Tina’s on Facebook, we get that you hold this country, that flag, and those lyrics near and dear to your heart. Several of us do, as well. We’re simply ready for them to start living up to their message. Until then, we’ll continue to #takeaknee. It’s a call to action: hear us, see us, and act accordingly. And if you don’t get it by now, you just don’t want to.
X’s and O’s,