I imagine there will be some who disagree with this opinion that I have, but no one should bite their tongue in favor of popular support or a pat on the head. As I type this, San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick is trending on Twitter due to comments he made about why he’s sat down twice now during the national anthem for two NFL preseason games.
Kaepernick stated to NFL.com, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.” He added, “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Of course, the Wisconsin native is absolutely right, the problem of state violence is much bigger than football. I’ve made the argument before that state violence may just be the most pressing domestic issue in America right now. It gets to the core of who we are as a country and who’s lives we value and don’t value. With a prison population that dwarfs all other nations (not including those on probation or parole who can have their rights taken from them) which is built on the bodies of mostly Black men, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that some Black people have internal conflicts when it comes to the flag.
It’s easy for a bunch of people, who are not in the community being attacked, to sit back and judge and wag their fingers at the very people who have been under constant threat. Matter of fact it’s too damn easy and that’s the problem. Everyone has a criticism of the Black community, but very few have solutions that don’t devolve into right-wing talking points about Black culture and single parent households.
Gabby Douglas was attacked on social media for not placing her hand over her heart during the Rio Olympics in Brazil, forcing her to come out and give an apology. For what? To soothe the white privilege of Americans who are contradictory in their fake outrage at best? Gabby Douglas received more hate than Ryan Lochte and Hope Solo combined, both of whom deserved much more criticism than they got…from White people anyway. If you had a Black athlete with the track record of Hope Solo, the only way they would’ve seen Rio is if they took a private trip or caught the Olympic action on TV like the rest of us. White privilege protects Solo too who’s history of domestic violence has all but been swept under the rug by the American media.
For some Black people, saluting the American flag is becoming increasingly problematic. It forces you to conform to this collectivist, pro-‘Murica group-think that ignores everything wrong with what happens in this country in a feeble attempt to feel as if there isn’t a system in place that feeds like a vampire on your people. Saluting the flag is not bringing the dead back to life and it’s not correcting generations of state-sponsored oppression…no matter how badly some people delude themselves into believing that’s what it does.
I can’t tell people what to do in times like this, I know what I’m going to do however. The next time an opportunity presents itself and I am told I have to put my hand over my heart…I’ll be using that opportunity to use the bathroom. I just hope they have plenty of toilet paper.
Brian Lewis works in the financial services sector and blogs in his spare time at Black and Intellectual. If he’s not working or blogging, he’s spending time with his family and/or researching new topics to discuss. Politically, Brian considers himself a radically Independent progressive who, like everyone else, is trying to find his way in a world that appears at times to have gone mad.