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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Get Off Kaepernick’s Back

If Colin Kaepernick, the backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, wants to protest the United States national anthem, then he should be able to do so with our support, not our condemnation. He is fighting for a race who has been oppressed for over 500 years, longer than any other oppression in human history.

People are constantly crying over the violence that breaks out in Black Lives Matter protests. But when an individual finds a peaceful and highly effective way to protest the widespread and unchecked injustice plaguing our country, people still are not satisfied. Fans, members of the media, and even NFL executives have criticized Kaepernick frequently and harshly since the story broke out a few weeks ago. Several 49ers fans went so far as to record themselves burning their Kaepernick jerseys and post the videos on YouTube as a public denunciation against Kaepernick, claiming him to be an traitorous American.

This is outrageous when you consider the fact that he is not protesting the military or any of its current or former service members.  Kaepernick has stated repeatedly to the media that he is solely protesting against the recent epidemic of police brutality against minorities in this country. As a part of his protest, Kaepernick wore socks which depicted pigs in police uniforms.  This was meant to be a non-verbal jab at the “anti-black soldiers” embedded in police departments nationwide that have routinely executed unarmed black men with impunity and received little to no punishment.

It seems like half of the country wants Kaepernick’s head on a spike and the other half is flocking to Kaepernick’s defense. Some of the defenders are even following suit.  They are refusing to stand for the national anthem, which was composed as a poem by an unapologetic racist slave owner during a period of unapologetic racism.

From a historical standpoint, life for black Americans began with the institution of slavery in 1619, which lasted until 1865. For 246 years, blacks lived under the harsh realities of forced labor and sexual assault.  They were denied education, health care, nourishment, self-identity and cultural identity. Then the Reconstruction period came and went. During those 12 years, the first KKK group emerged along with other white paramilitary groups, determined to terrorize white Abolitionists and free black men in an effort to keep them from voting. After that, the Jim Crow laws started in 1890, and lasted for 75 years, until the culmination of the Civil Rights Movement in 1965.

It is now the year 2016. We (and by we, I mean black Americans) have had “freedom” for 151 years. In other words, black Americans in this country have been enslaved longer than we have had “freedom.” The math does not lie. And that, to me, is just madness. We have been in this country for 397 years, yet we have only been free for 151 years. How does anyone think that isn’t absolutely crazy? No wonder the Black Community is in shambles, and has been for years. We have had to play catch up with everybody else in this country in terms of education, politics, business, and wealth.

It is bad enough we have been institutionally and systematically denied everything and anything under the sun. The US prison system might as well be called the “Black Lost & Found,” given the unfair incarceration of countless blacks charged with nonviolent crimes in comparison to their white counterparts charged with sex or violent crimes. And now we’re being killed in the streets under the cover of a badge?

If surgeons have to train for 12 years to hold a scalpel, then police cadets should be trained for far longer than six months to hold a firearm. It really makes you wonder how people can be so outraged and show so much disdain to a young athlete refusing to worship a flag. Yet at the same time, they are blind, deaf, and mute when a number of black civilians are gunned down in cold blood or die mysteriously while in police custody?

America, I cannot imagine how a piece of silk dyed in three colors is more important to you than the actual lives of your fellow Americans. Or does the flag have a brand new meaning now? Is it no longer justice for all, but simply justice for some? Did we revert back to the ways of the 1700s, and lost the right to not be killed for the color of your skin? I’m going to be honest, when I see that beautiful red-white-and blue flag flapping in the wind, I don’t see the same things I once did.

Instead, I see Eric Garner and Anton Sterling’s deaths.  Overzealous cops decided these two men needed to die over CD’s and cigarettes. In what world is morally acceptable and right for law enforcers to kill unarmed black men for minor, nonviolent, and nonsexual crimes such as those? And then be allowed to go home to their spouses or children without even the slightest of punishments?

Thoughts like “Even if my hands are way up and I’m calm and everything, I could still get shot and end up dead in time for the 10 ‘o clock news” fill my head. That is the reality black Americans, especially black men, live in today. It begs the question, “What the hell is the point? I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.”

I see Garner and Sterling’s deaths, and so many others. None of them should be dead; their supposed offences did not warrant a public execution.

This is why Kaepernick’s protest is so important. He is taking a nonviolent approach to declare his noncompliance to “fall in line” with the status quo set in place by the unknown, but very present, oppressive forces within the US political, legal, and judiciary systems.
The American flag is the greatest looking flag in the world, and always has been, but I can’t help thinking that I had the color representations all wrong. You see red is the color of the blood of the oppressed, while blue is the color of the fighting force of the oppressor. And white, well, I believe that one is self-explanatory, don’t you think?