I have been wanting to write for my blog for months. Months on months on months. They’ve peeled off the calendar like they were the Clementines so many of my Step Up students would eagerly eat throughout the school day. And through those times I have had so many things to write about: my work with helping high school students achieve their academic and personal goals, returning to school for a graduate certificate, what I learned as I took a year off from drinking alcohol, the overall racial tension in the country I live in, the racial double standards in professional sports, a trip to Baltimore, two trips to New York, how enamored with daily fantasy sports I am, sharing my graduate work… the list is about as long as the number of orange rinds Eric had peeled, which matched the length of time since my last post.
When I first started this blog over six years ago, I did it because a buddy of mine from high school was blogging. I felt it would be a good idea to have an outlet to express, emote, have a running journal, talk about things that interested me (regardless of how esoteric they sounded) after college… and plus, another friend told me, “[Y]ou have been writing notes on Facebook, why not expand man?” I also thought it would make me instantly cool because, well, who doesn’t love a writer? Except I had one issue: I had too much to write and say yet not enough discipline to keep it going consistently. At times I would be close to finishing a post and then micromanage my way out of the post. Those 10 drafts I mentioned back in January 2015 still sit wondering if I will ever return to them. I have said I will and they’ve been ever patient as I continue to fill my time with other endeavors or just ignore them. Too often do I not share what is on my mind with everyone and that is when I realized something about myself: the moment I don’t speak up, my silence speaks for me. Within the silence is the deafening sound of acquiescing and accepting something that does not truly align with my paradigm. In this moment, I discovered that my silence is more powerful than my voice.
Cause honestly I don’t fuck with this world, I’d rather hide
With the amount of turmoil, particularly racial turmoil, that is occurring in the United States… it is becoming increasingly difficult to read, sit and digest the heaps of literal garbage some people spew. It’s all too easy to hide, avoid, disconnect and acquiesce. To continue to sit by and say nothing is to allow paradigms that promote and increase ignorance to proliferate unfettered. For me, for you, for all of us, speaking up and speaking out is the quickest and most effective means to counter ignorant paradigms. If we can all model how to speak up, speak out and interrupt these dangerous pieces of rhetoric, the easier it becomes for all us to form effective counters to ignorance. Here is an example that I have to offer (Editor’s note: I also have an extensive piece on the racial double standards that I absolutely need to share as another example.)
Recently, Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem of a preseason football game. As a norm of the United States of America, we as citizens usually stand during the anthem and Kaepernick instead decided against joining in. Seemingly harmless, no? A person was exercising his autonomous right to do as he sees fit, he broke no laws or rules (NFL players are not required to stand during the anthem) and he explained that the reasoning behind his decision was because of the continued racial injustice to people of color in the United States. Everything checks out and is copacetic, yeah? Except for the fact that since he has decided to make that choice, to make that solemn decision, Kaepernick has been skewered for being spoiled, unpatriotic, and potentially called every curse word or pejorative term under the sun… all for not standing during a song that literally celebrates slavery? I finally caught up on some of this and came across this below tweet that was shared by someone I went to high school with:
I don’t know Cloyd. I don’t think this person I went to high school with knows Cloyd. One thing I do know about Cloyd and this particular person is that they share a common trait: ignorant-itis. The major issue I see in this situation is the conflation of Kaepernick acknowledging the reality of systemic oppression and how it affects a group of US citizens by declining to stand during the anthem and Kaepernick being unpatriotic because he decided not to stand. It made me sick to see this… so I scrolled down… until I remember this person also posted a video of someone burning a Kaepernick jersey. It was then I realized, “I cannot not say something… this is ludicrous.” Below is the post I made in response:
I of course do not want to engage in any type of Facebook conversation that will get as heated as one that involves race and patriotism… yet I can’t sit and read more of this junk. I have to disagree with this idea that Kaepernick’s decision is some form of massive disrespect to the country he lives in. There a multiple competing factors in this story and I think there is a bit too much shade being thrown his way. He is not wrong about anything he said regarding the oppressive nature of the USA flag toward persons of color. Using a lyric from the anthem that celebrates this country, “O’er the land of the free…” how many of us can truly say EVERY U.S. CITIZEN has been free? I’ll wait. There has been slavery, the Trail of Tears and Native American relocation, lynching, segregation, women’s suffrage, women still making less than men for the same amount of work, women not even having adequate maternity leave, redlining and racist real estate practices, and racially disproportionate use of excessive force and brutality by law enforcement. I mean, I could go on and on. It amazes me how convenient it is to forget how “unfree” many citizens have been, are and will be in this country because of systemic oppression. I’m not going to sit behind this keyboard and try to persuade you that I am right, despite knowing deep in my heart that what I am saying is true. What I am hoping is that I can open your mind to being more cognizant of the bigger societal impact of Kaepernick’s decision. I’ll leave you with this question: would you unequivocally respect something, someone or some place that didn’t respect you for who you were as a person? If the answer is yes, well bless your heart– you truly do not respect yourself or know your own worth. If the answer is no (which it ought to be), welcome to Colin Kaepernick’s world wandering the United States of America as a person of color, where his own country does not view him as free or worthy of living like his white counterparts.
Through that question, I imagine they both might finally understand the crux of why Colin Kaepernick is making a stand by sitting. I hope you join me in interrupting dangerous rhetoric and ignorant paradigms.