Like millions of Americans have been doing over the last few weeks, I’ve been following the NFL protests and the responses. It’s interesting to say the very least. It’s also a little sad. It’s sad how divisive this country is, during a time when we were supposed to have moved past most of that and realize that we are one America. It doesn’t help when the person in the most powerful office in the world is capitalizing on that divisive atmosphere.
As an African-American veteran who is also a writer, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t somewhat weigh in on the matter. I do understand both sides of the argument about whether kneeling during the national anthem is a peaceful protest, and showing disrespect. My opinion on who I think is right is irrelevant, for the sake of the post, so I’m not going to go into extreme details about them; if at all.
My first thing: the argument of freedom of speech and when to exercise it. Freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental rights that exist in this country. Very few people are blessed to have this right not only recognized but written into law. It’s the backbone of the democratic principles of this country. The problem with freedom of speech is everyone is fine with it; until someone else exercises theirs. Another concern for me is that usually, it is people who want to walk down the street with Confederate flags and other racists material who claims that anyone who tries to stop them is violating their freedom of speech, but when black people, brown people, the white people who support them, and other minorities have their own protests, it’s “shut up,” and “if you have a problem with it, leave this country.” Better yet, “have your protests on your own time.”
That’s the general idea of some of the elite of our government right now (I said elite because right now our government is run by billionaires who are so out of touch with society, there is no coming back) is just that to minorities: protest on your own time. We have a president who is spending more time worrying about a group of NFL players protesting during a game than about the millions of people who are stranded in Puerto Rico. But that’s beside the point.
What’s so ironic to me, and this is a point that I have seen brought up countless of times, is that the people who are complaining about the NFL protests are the very ones who would probably sit down themselves during the national anthem, or find some other way to dodge it. But all of a sudden, now they want to scream about how they are disrespecting the flag, the country, and the veterans. Just admit it, the reason is two-fold; it’s messing with your precious game that you and your boys waited all week for, and because you simply don’t get the protests because either you’re ignorant to the reasons or because you don’t want to see a bunch of black people stand up in solidarity because it scares you. These very people don’t know anything about the flag, probably can’t tell you when ten states are on the map and don’t give two shits about the military and its vets. Everybody wants to jump on that bandwagon because it sounds like the cool thing to do at the moment.
That being said, I also have a problem with the protests itself. My question (Shannon Sharpe asked the same question, so I’m kind of piggybacking off of him) is what are you really protesting? Because people all of a sudden started protesting when Trump called protesting NFL players sons of bitches who need to be fired. Are you really protesting because you’re continuing what Colin Kaepernick started, or are you doing it because you don’t like what Donald Trump said? I believe some people are doing it for Kaepernick. I believe a majority, however, are doing it strictly in reaction to Donald Trump. That’s fine because we need to send a clear message to him (which I don’t think he would hear it anyway). But we have to remember not to forget the reasons for why Kaepernick did it in the first place, which was in protest of how black and brown people are oppressed and killed by a system that is supposed to protect us.
It’s also ironic that the very people who blacklisted Colin Kaepernick are now supporting, and some cases, encouraging the movement. But they still won’t give his job back, although at this point I really don’t see why they should, because the damage is done (I wouldn’t even want to go back if it was me).
By the end of the say, here’s what I’m sick of. I’m sick of all of these people, hiding behind the flag, preaching about “un-American, ungrateful NFL players,” when you’re just as un-American and ungrateful as the people you’re claiming. I’m tired of people using the word patriotism when you’re still supporting an idea that died in flames over a century and a half. I’m tired of people using veterans as a political pawn in these protest, especially when most of them have never served, were too cowardly to serve, and when the ones who have served either sacrificed their lives or watched people sacrificed their lives; all so people can protest however they want (as long as it’s peaceful), and for you to sit down with your beer and food at the game (or running to get your beer and food).
I’m sick of white people (not all, because some support the movement and try to understand the best way they can) who continue to find ways every day to ignore, disclaim, or otherwise bash the very reason black people and brown people are protesting and being vocal; we’re tired. We’re tired and we want change. We don’t want more rights than they do. We just want to be treated equally. As a black man, I don’t want to walk outside tonight, and get gunned down by the police for no reason; only for the cops who killed me to get off. I don’t want to hear anymore Sandra Bland stories. For us, it’s not just a matter of being looked as an equal. It’s about our overall right to survival. It angers me that some white people, and other people who support them (as well as our current government), just don’t see that, not care.
So, keep protesting. Make sure you know what you’re protesting for.
See you later.