San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick
Kudos to Mike Whitney on his piece, "Three cheers for Kaepernick: Is Sitting Down During National Anthem an Acceptable Form of Protest?" 
According to Whitney San Francisco 49er quarterback "Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem before a preseason game with the Green Bay Packers. As a result he's been universally excoriated, scorned and reviled by liberals and conservatives alike...has become the guy everyone loves to hate, the new 'Hitler".
Whitney asks, "But why? Because he had the audacity to make a statement about treatment of blacks in America today? Because he wanted to draw attention to the numerous young black men that have been gunned down by cops in cities across the country? Because he wanted people to realize that the 'land of the free' ain't so free if your skin isn't lily-white? Is that why everyone is so pissed off?" This a must read.
Whitney includes some comments from the Washington Post's comments section on Kaepernick's protest. Here's a sample:
"What a F---ing clown. His sorry a-- should be focused on claiming the starting spot and gaining respect and trust of his teammates instead of some stupid a-- protest. He's done. What a scrub!"
"If America is so bad why not move somewhere else? Ungrateful jerk!"
"The country does NOT oppress anyone...stop being a victim." And so it went.
But here's the thing. Personally as a septuagenarian white man growing up in America I've never been profiled, pulled over by a cop because I was white, never been harassed or much less shot at by police on the street. In fact I've never considered any of that happening to me. Can anyone honestly say the same applies to people of color? Of course not.
And that's what Kaepernick was "saying" with his protest then later elaborating with the killing of young black men by police then being exonerated for the crimes they commit. So by sitting during the anthem he stood by the courage of his convictions and refused to stand.
The Washington Post's comments section on Kaepernick's protest reveal the deep seated racism that still exists in this country. Just because it remains under the surface most of the time doesn't mean it's not there. Though in this instance Kaepernick's protest gave license to the yahoos to express their racism though in a cloaked expression of knee jerk patriotic indignation toward anyone not standing for the anthem.
Personally looking back coming of age in the 1960's and 70's and taking part in the antiwar movement we often got "Love it or leave it", love the country or leave it from the pro war crowd.
Back then the flag became a partisan symbol that we saw taken hostage by the "Love it or leave it" crowd believing it represented only them. Some of that "residue" remains to this day.
It may be wishful thinking but Kaepernick's protest could be a sort of catalyst for an honest dialogue among people regarding the police. Serving and protecting the public as most white people see them juxtaposed to the threatening often violent presence police present in communities of color.
That dialogue needs to happen because if we're ever going to transcend racism in this country raising the consciousness of white people is paramount. Understanding the reality that exists between police and people of color would be a good place to start.
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