As a white, heterosexual female citizen of the United States of America, I live in a society that gives me many privileges. I have never felt threatened by others for the color of my skin or the way that I talk, and have been solidly middle-class my entire life. I never wanted for food, clothes, or games as a child, and my parents both attended college and established successful careers. I have never felt threatened by others because of my sexual orientation, and have never had an issue voicing my opinions and asserting my authority in social and academic settings.
I happened to come across this video while tooling around Facebook, and came to dead halt to watch the minute-and-fourteen-second attack on 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick for choosing not to stand for the playing of the national anthem. The video was not exceptional to me in any way other than making me angry. Because it claimed that America was “exceptional, not racist”. In addition, it mentioned that racism did not prevent him from being successful in football, nor did it stop him from signing a multi-million dollar contract to play the game he loves.
Here’s the thing about this video, though. America is both exceptional and racist. Heck, one could argue that it is still, in many ways, upholding exceptionally racist perspectives and expectations. And please, if you think that America is “post-racial”, do yourself a favor and read the remarks that have been made about the Obama family during his presidency, the opinions from supporters for Donald Trump, the statistics of police violence and brutality against minorities, racist and sexist coverage of the Rio Olympics, etc etc. America is about as tangibly post-racial as it is tangibly post-sexist. (Looking at you, wage gap and hypersexualization of women in media.)
You cannot use one person of color’s success to ignore the systemic racism that plagues our nation’s history and current political and social climate. THAT IS NOT HOW THIS WORKS, PEOPLE.
Please, please, please read a history textbook and acquaint yourself with the history of oppression in America. Why do you think there are high rates of incarceration, unemployment, and poverty for minority populations, because they choose to “not work hard enough” and thought that all of those things sounded spectacular? Fun fact: you’ve heard of the War on Drugs? Sentencing for crack cocaine (which was usually found on African Americans) was 100 times harsher than the sentencing for the same amount of powder cocaine (which was usually found on white Americans). The only difference between the two drugs is that one is crushed, and one is not, yet the sentences were typically much harsher for members of the African American community. Yup.
Colin Kaepernick exercised his right to make a statement by saying nothing and letting his actions speak for him. Everyone who has an opinion on his actions is entitled to them, and I would never deny you the right to say them, because that’s why we have a constitution with the freedom of speech. And yet, when did Kaepernick’s comments about his protest become anti-American in toto? He even said that he has “great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country”. He is not the first celebrity or athlete to use his position of fame to advocate for a public agenda, and he was very clear about what his concerns were. Why are so many people hell-bent on making him an enemy of the state, when his concerns are for the American public and a culture of violence that endangers many citizens today?
Kaepernick is not alone anymore — U.S. women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe kneeled for the National Anthem this past Sunday, and she is also getting flak for her show of solidarity. Athletes around the country are kneeling in solidarity with Kaepernick’s cause, and I do not believe that this is a sign of disrespect. They are using their public figure to nonviolently protest a fundamental flaw in the American experience for millions. At least their nonviolent protest has not led to more harmful repercussions for these people and their families.
Ever you lady,
American as F–k