don't let the nfl sideline protests have you hoodwinked
You all fell for the sleight of hand. The jig reached stratospheric levels and few, if any, of you recognized it. September 24th, in shows of “unity” and in protest against “division,” NFL owners and players locked arms, knelt, and accomplished nothing. And by nothing I mean, made absolutely no impact whatsoever on what originally had one, Colin Kaepernick, kneeling in the first place. If anything, it did the opposite. For now, instead of discussing issues of police brutality and criminal justice reform, we are instead in a never ending loop of discourse around service members, the flag, and rights associated with citizenship. Hypocrisy fully reared its head this past weekend like the leviathan of legend, drenched in the waters of intolerance and covered by tendrils of hate. What this creature leaves in its wake, is a glimpse into the morally bereft nature of this “great” society in general, and those who seek to defend “The Shield” specifically.
This has not, nor ever has been about members of military or the flag. In fact, I reject any notion that somehow service members are intrinsically more befitting of the rights, freedoms, and benefits of citizenship based on the fact that they served. This ideology is both ludicrous, and dangerous when the full implications of such a line of thinking is embraced. The flag itself? A symbol. An artifact representing the ideals and beliefs of a nation, that to this day has shown an abject disregard for the lives and well-being of those who happen to be richer in melanin. And even in the presence of such great forces that society compels you to figuratively bow the knee in deference to, I vehemently reject the notion that these are more important than the actual lives of black and brown people. This here is the junction where they have you bamboozled.
Racial inequality exists. It is a systemic problem that has its roots embedded buried in the colonial, manifest destiny, and 3/5ths stained earth from which this nation sprung. This undeniable fact is the basis upon which Kaepernick knelt in protest. However, it appears that the very idea that to be black in America is reason to be fearful for one’s life, and for one to have the audacity to shed light on this, is a notion that offends the sensibilities of NFL owners and fans. Not a president who labels Mexicans as rapists and brags about sexual assault. Not a quarterback accused of the latter, not once but twice. No all these things apparently pale in comparison to the horrid idea that the lives of people of color have merit. But that’s not why they knelt or locked arms in faux displays of unity. They knelt because their precious Shield was challenged, and for an added bonus they get to appear morally superior as they defend 1st amendment rights. Therein lies the jig.
What changed? If these same coaches and owners, who since Kaepernick’s protest, have fallen over themselves to show how patriotic they are by condemning his actions (and blackballing him out the league), why do they now kneel. Why now adopt the semblance of solidarity? Does this mean that all of a sudden they find it okay to protest during the anthem? This is hypocrisy on full display. It shows that this was never about the flag or the national anthem. It was never about supposedly honoring the military, who they wrongly conflate with as the sole representors of America. No, this was about an inability and unwillingness to accept that the lives of black people are worth something. In locking arms in protest on NFL sidelines, all they did shift was the conversation away from that. And you all let them get away with it.