I grew up in the 60s. All during elementary school, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance followed by sinning My Country ‘Tis of Thee. We were being indoctrinated to love our country.
As a disclaimer, to possibly being perceived as a racist, or playing the race card; here’s a little about my background. From the time I was 11 years old, I lived in a virtually all black society; my church was all black, my school was all black, my friends were black, although, there was a white kid right around the corner with whom my brother and I played. When we moved to Sacramento, we moved into a integrated, mostly white neighborhood, and those were the kids we played with. I hadn’t grown up with an “anti-white” mentality, nor an inferior complex because I was black.
A few weeks ago, I attended my grandson’s junior league football game. As the game was starting, over the loud speaker I hear someone singing the National Anthem. I looked around me, and the people around me remained seated. As I looked across the field I saw some people standing. They didn’t look like me. I hesitated at first, but I stood. Why did I stand? Why didn’t those around me stand?
I stood because of habit, partly; but, I mainly because I felt odd being seated while it was being sung. But I must admit I felt just as odd being the only one in my immediate surrounding standing. It’s been a while since I have been at an event where the National Anthem was sung, which required a response on my part.
Why didn’t they stand? I’m certain that there are reasons. It could be this wasn’t taught or instilled in them, or they don’t see the relevance. I won’t judge them. I cannot judge them. We shouldn’t judge what we don’t know, nor understand. Your experience in life may be totally different, which is why you may have a different response. Their experience may not have been so kind; in fact, it may have been the very opposite of yours.
A couple of years ago, my daughter took my grandsons, one teenager and one adult to a basketball game. She stood during the anthem. They did not. One of them stated the person behind them kneed them because they didn’t stand. This is a free country, right? We do have certain freedoms, right?
I really get that we should take pride in our country for its ideals, but what if those ideals do not trickle down to all? It is a beautiful concept. “…one Nation, under God , indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” But is liberty and justice for all? Are all treated equally? Are all treated fairly? Do all have the same opportunity? Is justice blind?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
There had been a big brouhaha about Colin Kaepernick taking the knee during the National Anthem last year. There were supporters and detractors. Some believed it to be disrespectful.
This season, Colin Kaepernick is out of work. No NFL owner has hired him to serve as a quarterback. Why didn’t he stand? Why did he take the knee? Was it because he hated America? Was it because he disrespected the flag and the military? When asked why he didn’t stand, Colin stated:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
He was referring to the police shootings of unarmed African-Americans that seemed to be prevalent especially in the past couple of years. His knee stance was his way of protesting the injustice.
Now, because he hasn’t been hired, more sport players are joining in taking the knee to protest Kaepernick’s being black balled because of his protest. It’s been one of the hot topics now being made more relevant by the President’s statement at a rally in Alabama, and his tweets, that NFL owners should fire the players who do not stand during the National Anthem.
The San Antonio Spurs coach, Gregg Popovich gave a very insightful statement on this matter:
When you’ve been born with certain privileges, those that aren’t in your circle, or that look like you become invisible. Their world is invisible to you. It takes intentional effort on your part to break the barrier, to understand what their world. We need empathy.
Because I live in the United States of America, and am a citizen; I have certain unalienable rights; freedom of speech, and the ability to redress grievances. Perhaps, our grievances are not the same, but let’s not be quick to dismiss a person’s position because it isn’t your position.