By Alicia R. Norman
I recently had the misfortune of running into an anti NFL group on Twitter and man was it a bubbling morass of disinformation, indignation and anger over—well. A black man kneeling. Kneeling was an affront to human decency! To humanity! Vets! The anthem, the flag, heck, one commenter tried to say it was hate speech.
Let that a sink in a moment. A man bending a knee to stop racial profiling against blacks is seen as engaging in …hate…speech.
I watched in dark bemusement as they threw every stick and stone at the bend a knee protest they could, which only proved one thing. The protests are working, and those who fear the emergence of real, genuine equality are panicking.
The repulsive gymnastic contortions that Trump and his ardent supporters undergo in order to ensure black people never get a say in America is alarming. Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon. Jackie Robinson encountered it when he dared speak about his treatment as a Black man in a segregated America. So did Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King. Many contemporary Whites seeking to squash the Black perspective from the public square invoke King and his peaceful protest, yet forget that he was met with fire hoses and police dogs in response.
If these folks were being honest, they’d ask themselves, what are the NFL protesters doing anything any different than King in regards to the method of protest? They aren’t throwing bricks in windows. They are silently kneeling and/or locking arms in solidarity for a few minutes before a game. Still, action icons like Steven Segal liken this to the taking of hostages.
The taking of hostages? Really? A few minutes of kneeling before a game in silent, emphasis on silent, protest, is like a gunman actually threatening your life in, let’s say, a bank?
Then there are those who claim #takeaknee is a slap in the face to Vets or disrespects the flag.
The bitter irony here is that most of the folks who say these kinds of things desecrate the flag in a number of ways themselves. For example, according to the USC Flag Code, one is not supposed to wear the flag as clothing (I am looking at you Kid Rock), put its pattern on cloth, draperies, or in advertisements. These lovers of ‘Murica don’t have an issue however, with Old Glory waving behind a car salesman as he screams about slashing deals on Labor Day.
The military also has a detailed list of Flag etiquette dos and don’t s which can be found here: MILITARY DOT COM
These self-professed patriots will also buy hot dogs, beer and nachos as the anthem plays and I doubt very seriously they stand and place hand over heart when watching the game at home. The hypocrisy is especially highlighted by the fact that players beating their wives or being accused or even convicted of murder didn’t move these lovers of fairness and freedoms to burn Jersey’s or tickets, but a black man calling attention to racism did.
Apparently, Black men taking a few minutes to acknowledge the innocent lives lost to police brutality is the biggest affront to America sensibilities since, well, evah, Some even argue those unarmed men deserved to get shot, as if there is no such thing as an innocent black man. Innocent Project stats reveal that Blacks make up a whopping 63 percent of men exonerated by DNA evidence. Those are the cases we catch. Allowing cops to be judge and jury on the streets is never a good idea, especially when there is an antagonistic racial history to consider.
The hyperbole surrounding the kneeling, that NFL players who engage in this benign practice are kidnappers, hostage takes, haters of America, thugs and insurgents, astounds but once again this is not wholly surprising. Segregationist and White Supremacy minded whites in America have been using this kind of verbiage for years to justify their desire to keep the black head bowed and eyes to the ground.
Take for instance the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till by J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, two white men from Mississippi. The men who killed the youth confessed to his murder in 1955 via a LOOK magazine article. The perpetrators, who bludgeoned and drowned the youth for the crime of whistling at a white woman, framed their actions as a protection of White American values. Milam and Bryant were paid $5,000 a piece for their time and were never convicted for their crime.
This same pattern emerges even today, yet in more insidious ways. Trump can claim Football “owners”, must be afraid of their players for example, and most of Trump supporters, whom I have begun to lovingly call Cult 45, will nod in agreement. Blacks be thugs, am’ I’ right? Nazi wannabes like Richard Spencer use dog whistling and provocative racially charged ideas like “Blacks’ ingratitude” e.g., a threat to White American values. By the bye, just who are we supposed to be grateful to? Our masters for allowing us to make money? It’s as if to say, no matter how hard a black person works, they never truly earn what they get, they are handed everything, and must therefor take any treatment they receive in thanks.
These cleaned up, unhooded KKK ideals stir up centuries old resentments to the point many can’t be rational. As a result, we currently live in an era where a self-professed Nazi can kill a woman in cold blood and men can tour on ideas of racial separation and peaceful ethnic cleansing, (whatever the hell that is). These same men can speak on a college campus to recruit people to their ideology, yet the real danger to America is Colin Kaepernick kneeling for racial harmony and peace.
Even many of my white friends, who support Kaepernick’s free speech, have bought the false narrative that Kaepernick is dissing ‘Murica.
For this reason, I was more than a little stoked to see Senator Coleman Young from Detroit Michigan speak up on behalf the #takeaknee movement in a fiery senate speech that asked, “When and How Can Black People Protest?” During his impassioned query, he wondered when and how Blacks should vent our frustration and anger. Why we, not Clive Bundy, are called unpatriotic when we speak up even though there were many patriotic blacks throughout history, like Crispus Attucks, the first man to die for the birth of America. He asked why our kids could be so easily discarded as trash or thugs, why people wave away or treat with scorn the simple notion that black people are human and matter?
His video, which can be found on YOUTUBE HERE was a brilliant response to the madness, yet I know his words will be met with the same old tired and dismissive response of,“I know you’re a bigot, but what am I?” a tactic the right uses when faced with justified black anger and sadness.
Today, Blacks have been told to be “grateful,” take our hush money and play along for so long our voices have begun to mute. This is a frightening prospect a the country is slowly but surely being taken over by a force that paints those who fight against racism, genocide, racial separation and ethnic cleansing as the bad guys. The kidnapping of American decency is something we cannot allow to happen.
This is why we march.
This is why we fight.
This is why we kneel.
Alicia R. Norman is a freelance writer as well as a graphic Illustrator/animator. Norman’s primary goal is to combine vivid storytelling with animation in order to create scintillating, fun and/or thought provoking films.