Most Americans, myself included, do not endorse looting in response to injustice. But your preference to discuss looting over racial equity right now misses the point Kap was making nearly four years ago.
I’m breaking an editorial rule for this blog by stating what seems to be the most obvious viewpoint that’s been proven by the series of active rebellions throughout America, prompted by the death of Greg Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer: y’all should have listened to Colin Kaepernick.
I have to state it because we need as many digital records of America’s refusal to discuss racial justice for centuries, regardless of the messenger.
Hell, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s brilliant book, Stamped from the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, noted that even George Washington, in 1785, dismissed the idea of Black slaves’ social progress in America — that is, getting rid of slavery — citing “It would be dangerous to make a frontal attack on a prejudice which is beginning to decrease”. (Emphasis mine.)
But back to Kaepernick, who was observed by an NFL.com journalist in 2016, taking a knee while the National Anthem played prior to a pre-season football game.
Mind you, Kaepernick never launched a public relations campaign prior to kneeling. He simply kneeled.
When asked by the reporter why he’s not standing, Kap gave this response:
“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.”Source: NFL.com
The response back to Kaepernick was bonkers.
A growing number of players in different sports began to take a knee while 72 percent of Americans thought Kaepernick’s actions were unpatriotic. 64 percent felt he had a right to take a knee.
Kaepernick became, according to a survey, the most disliked player in the NFL.
The sentiment among many Americans was that Kaepernick’s protest doesn’t have a place in sports.
Let’s move beyond the argument of whether or not White Americans had any ideas for where Colin Kaepernick can take his knee — most White Americans never cared enough about stopping police violence against African Americans.
In 2016, near the same time Kap took his knee, 55 percent of White Americans felt that African Americans were treated fairly by the police. Five percent weren’t sure.
Meanwhile, 67 percent of African Americans felt they were treated unfairly by law enforcement officers.
And a mountain of surveys over the years will show White and Black people live in different realities concerning their relationships with police officers.
But most White people aren’t listening to African Americans, let alone listen to Kaepernick.
Alveda King, member of the clergy and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., recently appeared on Fox News to talk about race relations and how her Uncle Martin trained her to perform her duties “in love.”
But by 1966, most Americans did not approve of MLK’s work — a rarely-discussed fact.
And then MLK, a man who preached only love, was assassinated. For preaching love. Rebellions ensued. Studies were launched to understand Black rage. Reforms were promised.
Fast-forward to 2020. Too many White people maintained their deafness to mounting Black bodies, victims of police violence along with health, environmental, housing, education and economic oppression. Rebellions followed. And many White people still feel more comfortable with lamenting the looting seen on television, than address the recurring original sin, which would effectively stop all looting.
Kap tried to tell y’all in 2016. Ready to listen now?
I covered this topic about three years ago. You can also read this …
song currently stuck in my head: “i told jesus” – roberta flack