From an essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates – The Atlantic:
Kaepernick did not inaugurate his protest in hopes of helping elect more centrist Democrats, or any kind of Democrat. That said, he was not immune to compromise. When his initial efforts were met with disdain and deemed disrespectful, he actually consulted a group of veterans to see how he might better pursue a protest. That is the origin of Kaepernick kneeling, and the fact that it too has been met with scoffs points to deeper problem. If young people attempting to board a bus are unacceptable, if gathering on the National Mall is verboten, if preaching nonviolence gets you harassed by your own government and then killed, if a protest founded in consultation with military veterans is offensive, then what specific manner of protest is white America willing to endure?
The predictable, narrow-minded, and mostly white response to Colin Kaepernick’s protest is an echo of America’s civil rights past. Dr. King expressed disappointment with the white moderate majority’s similar response in his 1963 Letter From Birmingham Jail:
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”
When, then, and in what manner is protest acceptable? How should Kaepernick and those joining him bend to appease the “patriotic” white majority? Social justice should take precedence over flag-waving, false patriotism; false, because if the indignant were true patriots they’d care more for the freedom and dignity of every American than for a symbol of it.
Ignorance is believing the Civil Rights era concluded with equality for all, or that a colorful banner has more worth than a human life.
Freedom and dignity for all begins with the individual. YOU and me. Examine yourself. Have you said or thought, “I support people’s right to protest, but …?” What’s your first reaction to a group of non-white Americans gathering to protest? How does it differ from if they were white, protesting taxes or foreign aid or “reverse discrimination?”
One mind plus one mind plus one mind, and before you know it you have a culture. America’s culture is insular, violent, and bigoted down to its long ago-formed core. Negative attitudes toward the brown and the black, not to mention the Muslim and the Jew, are rubbed into the grain. But you and I are America. Change your mind, change your world. It begins with you and me, right now.
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