People who aren’t related to the media would like to know.
I get it, American law enforcement has an issue with police brutality — undebatably amongst all races — and it needs reform. However, why does America (as a whole) have to take the blame?
When professional sports stars (and Chris Brown) join in the trend of protesting the national anthem, their reasoning is that the action rebukes, and brings attention to, injustice that has negatively affected certain Americans. But is there more to it than that? I mean, if you and I were to protest the national anthem at a sporting event as everyday citizens and not a sports celebrity, we’d probably be frowned upon by those around us — if anyone noticed at all. I’m definitely sure we wouldn’t get media adoration or an appropriating hashtag.
But in 2016, where fake-caring about trendy causes is routine social practice, this sort of unpatriotic behavior can make you a media hero. Denying national tradition grants instant attention and public name recognition to anyone that chooses to partake in it. Anyone who challenges the sincerity of the NFL protests against the American justice system is either discredited or labeled racist, even though professional sports stars (and Chris Brown), black and white, have a history of getting away with the very privilege they’re claiming to protest.
It’s the American right of NFL players and anyone else to exercise their freedom to openly bash the country that has blessed them with success and a wide-reaching platform. It’s also equally the right of any patriotic American to speak up about how they feel it blatantly disrespects the pride, perseverance, and love of country symbols like the Star Spangled Banner and American flag provide us. Some supporters of the national anthem protests have even gone as far as to dub the Star Spangled Banner “racist,” suggesting it be replaced.
Isn’t that going too far?
Should history actually be rewritten to spare the feelings of a few people who fail to see how far America has progressed since 1814, when the national anthem was written? Over 200 years later, you’re telling me America never evolved, that the behavior of some law enforcement and judiciary alone has regressed black Americans into a need to push for the second coming of civil rights? It would be easy to believe the myth that black Americans are oppressed if I didn’t personally witness so many examples of black excellence on a regular basis. I mean, the very NFL players protesting our symbols of patriotism have benefitted the most from being American, while simultaneously being black.
Is it not a form of oppression-maintenance to push the tired stereotype that America treats blacks inferiorly? Especially when all it does is reinforce the stigma while keeping hurtful sentiments alive.
Instead of courting oppression and self-victimization to the point of wearing it as some sort of self-righteous badge of honor, why not combat it with success? Why not unite Americans by reveling in the potential for greatness our country offers all of its citizens? It’s more effective than sitting down, kneeling or raising a fist. It’s also significantly less offensive.
I understand that these protestors are using their platforms, and some their monetary resources, in what they feel is an effort that redirects attention towards the issue of how police brutality affects people of color in America. But isn’t that what the Black Lives Matter movement has been doing already? When NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was consistently benched and rumored to be cut by the San Francisco 49ers well before protesting the anthem, is it not suspicious that his next move was to play the race and victim card at work, where he wasn’t willing to take a pay cut?
I’m not trying to invalidate Colin’s personal pursuit of social justice, but it wouldn’t surprise me if his intentions weren’t entirely genuine. After all, Kaepernick was the first NFL player to take a risk and protest the anthem under these circumstances. He initially sparked mass criticism, but kept his high-paying job and endorsements regardless. Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos wasn’t as lucky. After #VeteransforKaepernick became a Twitter and Facebook trend, he is now looked at as a hero and beacon of the modern civil rights movement with the number one, best-selling jersey in the country. He has also simultaneously pioneered the appropriation of these antics for his colleagues, as there are now 14 NFL players in total protesting our national anthem — even on the anniversary of September 11th.
It has officially become okay to consider the patriotic symbols of an entire country blasphemous based on the ineptitude of some law enforcement and a few of our justice system leaders alone. Instead of working with politicians to inspire actual change, 2016’s most celebrated way to get your point across is now to sit, kneel, or fist-pump. How appropriate for the times. And people question supermodel Kate Upton for not buying it. Well I don’t either. Real change takes actual effort and we shouldn’t be acting like that’s what we’re seeing happening in the NFL, because it’s not.
What’s even worse is that the influential role-models peddling these tired and oppressive stereotypes are actually inspiring young African-Americans to follow suit, sparking divisive and unnecessary racial tension. As a gay, black American male who feels the furthest from oppressed, I’m not going to act like the hypocrisy and lazy efforts of NFL players (and Chris Brown) protesting the anthem is fundamental and you shouldn’t either. I know that my experience is not everyone’s, but it certainly could be with a simple change in mindset. When you stand up for America, those sitting or kneeling are below you for a reason.
Whitney Houston, proudly singing her chart-topping rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.