I have lived my whole life in the dark light of racism. When will it change??? I grew up in the late 80’s, early 90’s in a community, north of the Mason Dixon line, in Central Pennsylvania. Cross burnings orchestrated by Ku Klux Klan members in the yards of African-Americans occurred in my area. As a child, I saw woods littered with white sheets and hoods, trees spray painted with terrible ethnic slurs, swastikas and far worse things I would rather not even describe. I’ve seen racial tensions erupt in chaotic violence many times. I lived in a city where as recently as the year 2000, “the Klan” held a massive rally to exercise their freedom of speech, to publicly spew hatred towards entire groups of people different from them.
I have had a unique view on racism since I was a child. I was poor for the majority of my life. I am a proponent of my family, welfare, public housing, and the environment in which I grew up. I have been shaped by African-American culture. For most of my life, I was the minority in an African American neighborhood, but I was different only in color. The cloud of despair was as thick for me, as it was for everyone else who were subject to the same conditions and environment I was from. My family’s plight was virtually the same grim affair as everyone else from my area. #Zone5 When everyone in an area faces the same brutal hardships of survival and perseverance they become unified in a common struggle. The struggle of survival erases any preconceived doubts about people’s race, age, political affiliation, or even religious views. All of that melts away, and you are left with just a human, different from you, struggling in the same exact ways you are. You become more than neighbors growing up in this environment…. You become family. UNITED by despair, regardless of race! (I am positive that this idea of survival is a universal truth) I am not surprised I grew up harboring completely different feelings towards people whose skin color differed from mine, and my views were completely different from others who grew up just miles from me.
That being said, in the past two years, I feel that I may have never heard more hateful or open displays of racism in my entire life. It even feels that this problem in America, is becoming far worse and more prevalent! Realizations have blossomed from videos of police brutality seen on social media that have sparked movements, riots, and outrage across this great country, amplified by a bigoted real estate mogul running for president. Noone has faced more scrutiny on this issue than a figure in the sports realm, Colin Kaepernick, a 49ers quarterback, and a backup??? (making starter $$$), with no touch on his throws, unable to go through progressions, but most importantly to some, an African American who chose not to stand for the national anthem (which shows solidarity and represents that we are united as Americans). Rather, he declined to stand in order to draw attention to racial inequality and to make his voice heard , regardless of the financial, career, and personal ramifications that will ensue. He chose to exercise his freedom to peacefully protest the treatment and police brutality towards certain groups of Americans. Just because your opinions differ from someone else’s does not mean they aren’t entitled to them in America, and it doesn’t mean that they aren’t right as well. He is jeopardizing his future at potentially earning millions of dollars to stand up for what he believes in. Something that some of you wouldn’t do to save your mother, I’m almost certain.
This isn’t the first time an athlete has taken a radical and unpopular stance to raise awareness for racial injustices. I wonder how similar the tweets hurled towards Mr. Kaepernick would match up to the insults that were hurled at Jackie Robinson??? Or Tommie Smith??? Or Muhammad Ali??? All of those iconic sports heroes, that helped perpetuate change in culture and in law, were villianized in their day, portrayed negatively, harassed, assaulted, court martialed, and even arrested for standing up for the exact same racial injustices, inequality and persecution of AMERICANS!!!! They used their platform and freedom of speech to influence change by raising awareness. The same exact thing Colin Kaepernick has done, and it’s had the exact response and hatred that surrounded those legends. When people aren’t aware of history, it is bound to repeat itself. SMFH
The real frustration is that we are all being oppressed (some CLEARLY more that others). We are being oppressed, mostly by ourselves. Oppressed by our differences. Distracted by differences in beliefs. We harbor ill will to those different from us, and it impedes their pursuit of freedoms, in a land that is just as much theirs, as it is yours, despite your entitled feelings. It’s just plain wrong! In 2016, whether you choose to ignore racial injustices or other problems in our pursuit of equality, I assure you these problems are very alive, need properly addressed and solved quickly. When inequality and injustice are accepted or ignored, the word freedom loses its meaning. If it gets to the point that an athlete like Colin Kaepernick has to take a radical stand, like so many others before him have, there might actually be a problem!
Who else, other than Kaepernick, is going to speak up for people with no voice? You probably aren’t even aware, or believe, that racial injustice is still actually a problem. Maybe you’re thinking, it’s nothing but more hype from the media, Beyoncé or that darn Hussein Obama. “Them folks” destroying their homes and cities will help prove their point. Perhaps the BlackLivesMatter thugs are just acting up again, or the people in the ghettos who just choose to continue living in adverse and dangerous environments with their children, are just wanting more free things on the backs of the hard white mans labor. (If you don’t see the irony, ignorance, and arrogance in white people talking like this after 300 years…… I feel sorry for you smh) It just feels like we are recreating barriers we have already torn down! We are all the same, with minor differences based on where we are from and how we were raised. We are all humans!
I hope Colin Kaepernick will not be another distraction in a long list of things that only seem to further divide us and make a solution to conquering our oppression less likely. In the land of the free, if equal rights for all…. aren’t equal than that holds us ALL down as a nation. We’re fighting the same exact battles of equality that we fought during the Civil War. The fear of not understanding differences in Americans has plagued our country’s history with embarrassment, oppression, and shame. Instead, we need to finally see the premise and better yet the end goal on which our very country was founded on. You know, We the People, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity!!!!
Those words were written 229 years ago. Times have changed, we have changed (so ACT like it). Our pursuit of freedom and equality will never waiver! Only by being UNITED TOGETHER through our despair, can we persevere! Only by understanding and accepting our differences TOGETHER can we truly be FREE! We can continue to strive for and conquer division, so no man, woman or child is ever oppressed in our country for any reason or difference or we can regress. Freedom for all.
“Welcome, or unwelcome, agreeable, or disagreeable, whether this shall be an entire slave nation, is the issue before us.” -Abraham Lincoln