There’s been a big stir lately with the NFL, the National Anthem, and protesting. Here are a few things we should keep in mind:
It started with Colin Kapernick, but is not about Colin Kaepernick.
I’ve read so many articles about Megan Rapinoe, Brandon Marshall, high school players, etc. “joining Kapernick in his protest”. First of all, this fight has been going on for far longer than Kapernick has been around. I’m glad he started a domino effect, but let’s please keep our eye on the prize. The man did what he did to fight injustice. He’s met with various groups of people and has spoken to some high-profile activists to see what his next steps can be in solidarity. People joining in the protest are not merely supporting an athlete. They’re supporting a HUGE cause.
The National Anthem does not equal the brave men and women of our military.
I’m not sure how this got twisted. People seem to think that because some are protesting the National Anthem, this is straight disrespect towards our sailors and soldiers. First of all, the members of our armed forces put their lives on the line so that we can exercise our rights such as the right to peacefully protest. Secondly, kneeling was a compromise to distinctly say “I am against the injustices we see in our country, and I am in full support of those who protect us and our rights”. At first, people were sitting. However, after talking to military members, players decided that kneeling would be more respectful and a better representation of their message-- their message of wanting the United States to truly be a place of justice for all, and to support the men and women who sacrifice so that statement can be true.
Stop telling people of color how to feel or deal with the racism they’re subjected to.
Would you ever tell a rape victim that he or she should stop telling their story? Would you ever say to them, “Hey, you shouldn’t bring so much attention or deal with your pain in that way.” No. Because that’d be messed up. They will deal with their pain however they feel like it (as long as it’s legal, it’s probably okay. Shoot, some people probably get away with illegal stuff after such a tragedy like rape). You don’t get to tell a person of color how to deal with the injustices they face. This whole, “get up and do something rather than sit/kneel/etc...” argument is crap and here is why: protesting is doing something and you don’t get to tell people how to act on their tragedy. (And see paragraph 1, Kaepernick is doing other things too)
Stop with the “this is divisive” rhetoric.
Okay, if I’m honest, I can see why people think this action is divisive. However, if you take time to understand and learn about the situation, you’ll see that it is not divisive. High-profile people are trying to bring light to the situation by taking a stand and getting people to talk. What is so divisive about “I don’t like the way people of color are treated in the US” That’s divisive?! It’s only divisive when people who hear that get angry at those who are speaking out. There’s a great opportunity for people to listen, help heal, and build bridges. But you can’t do that when you’re too busy yelling at the person for wanting equity. If I’m being treated poorly by a friend and I tell her, I’d hope she’d listen, apologize, and help make it better rather than tell me to “quit complaining” and that I’m “just making us grow further apart.” Some friend.
Please start listening.
White fragility is a thing. It’s not about you. People are hurting, dying. Listen when people are talking and instead of getting up in arms and thinking of every way to divert the conversation to anything else, hear what they have to say and believe them. Instead of condemning people who are saying “This is happening and I need your help to make it stop” L I S T E N. And listen actively. Get out of your own head and make it about the other person. Instead of focusing on what they can do, focus on what you can do. And start with listening.