When Will The Privileged Finally Stand By The Oppressed?

#TakeAKnee Is Not About The Flag
Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh with Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Edgar Chandler (far left), and Msgr. Robert J. Hagarty of Chicago (far right) at the Illinois Rally for Civil Rights in Chicago’s Soldier Field, 1964

Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh with Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Edgar Chandler (far left), and Msgr. Robert J. Hagarty of Chicago (far right) at the Illinois Rally for Civil Rights in Chicago’s Soldier Field, 1964

The time for the privileged to lock arms with and help the oppressed is now. Enough is enough. If we want to have any hope for our society to rise above these injustices, we must not sit on the sidelines. To be a bystander to the injustices you know are wrong, makes you no different than the perpetrator. The time is at hand for the privileged to lift up our fellow brothers and sisters and stand firm against the injustices they face on a daily basis.

We are all human beings, but we are all not treated equally. When the privileged take our oppressed brothers and sisters and lift them up, nothing or no one can stop it. I am in total shock that anyone would think or feel they are better than anyone else on this planet, let alone in the United States of America. Remember this, history has always shown those who have risen to fight the injustices, and it has also highlighted those who have not. The real question here is, what side of history do you want to be remembered by? It is now your move.

Freedom of expression is what this country was founded on. Our brave members of the military, which are more diverse than the US, fight to protect that right. Colin Kaepernick made a brave decision to highlight a systemic problem that needs to be addressed. People of color, in all honesty, are not treated equally. And not only do they face societal inequalities, they are more than 2x as likely to be killed by the police. As a white male, I am not even going to try to understand or explain how they feel, as I have never been oppressed based on shade the in which I was born in, and quite frankly no white person should or could.

I want to highlight this as well, when Colin Kaepernick decided to take this very serious issue on, Kaepernick invited former Army Green Beret Nate Boyer to his team’s Thursday night preseason game against the San Diego Chargers. You may remember Boyer as the veteran who decided to become a long snapper and walked on to the University of Texas football team with no previous playing experience. Colin had not knelt he simply sat during the anthem at this point.

He met Kaepernick and 49ers safety Eric Reid in San Diego, and the three men talked for 90 minutes before the game. When the anthem played before the game, the two players took a knee instead of sitting.

“We were talking to him about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from pride in our country but keep the focus on what the issues really are,” Kaepernick said after the game. “As we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee because there are issues that still need to be addressed and there was also a way to show more respect for the men and women that fight for this country.”

Generally, after “Taps” is sounded… the flag is folded… and presented to the appropriate family member.

So Colin Kaepernick did not disrespect the flag and even went so far as to reach out to an Army Green Beret for the opinion of someone that has sacrificed and served our country. So why the controversy? What more could this young man have done to peacefully protest a real issue that minorities in this country face every day? My guess is the privileged can not even conceive what minorities go through and allowed our First Amendment to be attacked by the current sitting President. And what would Donald Trump know about sacrifice? The man has never served in any capacity in the military. So I will go with what Green Beret Nate Boyer suggested over a draft dodger any day.

What It Means To Be Privileged

We are not pulled over for driving a nice car, we are not immediately labeled derogative names when talked about, we are the privileged, and we all know it. Our current President is so far removed from this issue that he felt it necessary to attack this young man and sabotage his career. To add insult to injury, the NFL owners and coaches are just as much to blame; I could name 20 quarterbacks currently employed in the NFL that quite frankly could not even hold Kaepernick’s jock strap. It was not until the President aimed his sights at the NFL and its owners and commissioner before outrage from them started to rise up.

Colin has literally put his career and livelihood on the line, and he has paid a ridiculous penalty. I want you to think of this, had Tim Tebow taken a knee to possibly protest that Religion was not more involved in sports, would the response be the same? I will answer it for you, the answer is a loud NO, why? Tim Tebow is white. Tom Brady did not attend the Patriots visit to the White House, was he attacked by our President? NO, he is white, In regards to Stephan Curry, it’s even crazier because he hadn’t fully decided yet. He was basically just debating whether or not to attend but leaning towards no, and the President rescinded.

Also, keep in mind this is all coming from a cowardly man who dodged the draft four times. This was in my personal opinion one of the most peaceful ways to protest a serious issue, these young men of color are being killed at an alarming rate. Colin did not disrupt the game; he did not even ask for everyone to also participate in the protest, he simply took a knee. And because of the President making racist comments he has enabled these type of attacks from others.

CBS Pittsburgh reports that Paul Smith, the chief of the volunteer fire department in Cecil Township, Pennsylvania, posted on Facebook that Tomlin “just added himself to the list of no-good n*ggers” for his decision to not take the field during the anthem.

The Players Banding Together

Several New England Patriots players kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Several New England Patriots players kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

If you have ever played any type of team sports, then you will understand that there is a bond that is like a brother or sisterhood. This is the same in the military; no one was disrespecting the flag, the flag stands for freedom and part of that freedom is the ability to express yourself freely without recourse. So I am very happy that the players together took a stand this Sunday, and I hope they continue to, but the owners and the commissioner, you get no quarter. You hid behind your own self-interest until President Trump put you in his crosshairs.

I am happy that the big name players are coming out in support of Colin, but to the owners, if you want to show solidarity, GIVE COLIN HIS JOB BACK. It is that simple, and allow this man to continue to be able to support himself and his family, he has earned that right. We are so quick to say how compassionate we are as a nation, but yet we turn our backs on the very people that need help the most.

Where Is Our Empathy?

We certainly want to think so, but actions speak louder than words. As I watched the White House press briefing this week, I witnessed on the split screen disabled people being, again, ripped out of wheelchairs and treated like animals. How can anyone just sit back and see this and not feel empathy for these people?

What I saw was everyday people standing by taking photos and looking on as these people were treated with such disrespect and lack of empathy. Is this where we are? We are now ok with people of color, people with disabilities, people with chronic illnesses, and children whose lives depend on their current healthcare plan, being not only thrown out of a hearing about a horrible healthcare plan, but are being killed literally in our streets. We see the videos, and we are outraged for a few minutes but for the privileged, it is gone as soon as the next day. As an American I feel what is more disrespectful is not someone taking a knee, it is the American people allowing this systemic degenerating of moral values.

Who Can Make A Difference?

This is where I am stumped; celebrities speak out, they are told to shut up and mind their own business. NFL players decide to peacefully protest and are not only punished but called “sons of bitches” by the President. The disabled want their voice heard and are dragged out. Keep in mind we pay all of these Senators, Governors, and the President. What is acceptable? More importantly, why are we not more outraged?

According to the United States Senate: “The Constitution’s first three words — We the People — affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens. For over two centuries the Constitution has remained in force because its framers wisely separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights, of liberty and equality, and of the federal and state governments.”

So it is up to we the people, and if we do not change the course we are on, I can almost guarantee you it will be our demise. We have become a selfish, greedy society that turns its back on the oppressed as long as it does not affect us. As Stephen Hawking said:

“Mankind is in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity.”

So while we continue to divide keep in mind all of this will catch up to us, it is only a matter of time. I would implore anyone reading this to self-reflect just as I have and assess what you can do to make this a better place for all, not just a chosen few.

Opinion // Activism / Civil Rights / Humanity / Politics / Racism