In honor of Colin Kaepernick’s #7 jersey, here are seven awesome things about him not standing up for the national anthem…
1. Another black person didn’t have to die in order for us to discuss racism. We get to talk (for a couple days, at least) about the racial injustice in America without yet another black body lying dead in the streets. It’s kind of refreshing to have this topic being discussed on Facebook without having to try to figure out whether or not the person (whose name just turned into a hashtag) DESERVED to get shot six times after getting pulled over for a broken tail light. It’s a lot easier on the conscience to demonize a rich black athlete who is trying to draw attention to racism than it is to demonize some poor unarmed black kid who got shot while running away police. So that’s one cool thing…
2. You get to watch cognitive dissonance happen in real time. Guess which people are the most angry about Colin Kaepernick sitting down while the Star Spangled Banner was being sung. Yeah, yeah– I know… White people. That goes without saying. But WHICH white people? If you guessed “The Ones Who Want To Make America Great Again,” you win a shiny new imaginary medal that says, “I’m respected by The Boeskool.” Now, see if you can follow me here–And I’m especially talking to those of you who are reading this post because the title made you angry, and you’re really just skimming through while you are thinking up a really hateful comment: 1) Trump supporters don’t think America is very “great” anymore… So they want to make it great AGAIN. 2) A man sits down to protest some things about America he thinks aren’t so great. 3) You are filled with such outrage and righteous indignation, that you angrily wonder how some spoiled brat could be critical of the greatest country in the world… Nay. The Universe!
3. We get to learn about the racist history of the Star Spangled Banner. I’ve read two really informative articles about our national anthem in the past 24 hours: One HERE by Jason Johnson that was written before this whole Kaepernick hubbub, and one HERE by John Schwarz that was written after. You should read them both. I didn’t even know the Star Spangled Banner had more than one verse. The third verse is quite a doozy. Here it the second half:
“No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
A lot of people know that Francis Scott Key (a slave-owner himself) wrote the song about the War of 1812, but most people don’t know that one of the reasons the British were successful in this war was because they recruited black men to fight for them in return for offering them their freedom… These were the “hireling and slave” that would shortly meet their doom in Key’s catchy tune. Turns out Francis Scott Key “supported sending free blacks (not slaves) back to Africa and, with a few exceptions, was about as pro-slavery, anti-black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time.” Think about THAT next time you’re taking off your hat and hitting that high note…
4. This awesome quote from an interview with Colin Kaepernick. Think about it:
“You have people who practice law and are lawyers who go to school for eight years, but you can become a cop in six months, and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. That’s insane. I mean, someone that’s holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people who have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.“
Here’s the video clip…
5. Getting to watch white people get really, really upset. I know… I’m sorry. But I have to admit, it’s a whole lot of fun for me to watch white people lose their minds. And–full disclosure–I’m white. But I can’t be the only one who finds white outrage fueled by faux patriotism at least a *little* entertaining, right? That is, if you can get past how truly tragic it all is… And you don’t let the startling ignorance behind it get you down… And if doesn’t gross you completely out when they pimp out pictures of soldiers who lost their limbs or their lives as examples of “real heroes,” instead of cowards like Colin Kaepernick… Hopefully, if you can get past all that, you can maybe giggle a little bit at the picture of a couple of white dudes burning an $85 jersey of a young man who DARED to exercise his right to free speech… You know, that same thing that gives them the right to burn his jersey in protest of him not being patriotic enough? On a side note, how much do you want to bet I can guess who these two are planning on voting for?
6. Getting a great look at the REAL religion in America: Nationalism. People talk about “Separation of Church and State,” but this is really an impossible task when the true religion of this country IS the State. To test this out, sometime just give this a try: Say something critical about Christianity, and then see what kind of reaction you get. THEN, say something critical about USA. Suggest that racism is at the very heart of this nation. Suggest that maybe soldiers are dying for nothing. Sit down while everyone else is standing up… See what happens. See which act of criticism is truly out of bounds. But it makes sense, if you think about it. The State has the ultimate authority–The authority to kill. If someone claims to kill someone else “for God,” they are looked at as a crazy person, but most people seem to be just fine with killing state-sanctioned killings. Killing in the name of God? Crazy fanatic. Killing in the name of the State? Patriotic hero. But I better be careful… Saying this kind of stuff can get me in really big trouble, right?
7. That hair tho… I’m serious. If I had that head of hair, I’d be running for president.
So keep up the good work, Colin Kaepernick. Keep speaking the truth, even when it’s hard. Even when it triggers people’s white fragility. Even when people call you a coward for being brave enough to speak up. And even when it feels like you’re the only one…
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