Colin Kaepernick: American Patriot
Updated: May 22, 2020
For those of you who disagreed with athletes kneeling for the National Anthem, I would humbly ask that you consider this image. This is the Boston in the 1970's that I grew up in. It seems an apt metaphor for how many African Americans feel in this country.
So much about our experience is just incredibly complicated. For example, on the one hand America is, of course, our home. It's where we live - and have lived for generations. Because of the myriad of contributions we've made to this nation - and the way that slavery and the centuries we've been here have dissolved most of our familial connections to Africa - this is the only home we know.
At the same time, this is a country that has never embraced us; certainly not beyond what we can do for it. Our American experience began with our enslavement. It continues to this day with treatment that is less than what the Founding Fathers envisioned for its citizens.
To be sure, the 'Black Lives Matter' movement is a direct function of the fact that despite what our foundational documents declare, apparently, all men - and women - are actually not created equal. Herein was the point of Colin Kaepernick's protest. He peacefully and thoughtfully kneeled during the National Anthem to protest a nation that continues to struggle with its citizens of color.
If we continue to value our Founding Fathers and their aspirations for our country, then why isn't kneeling considered an overtly (and enthusiastically) patriotic act? Kneeling exhorts us to live out the best and highest aspirations that our Founders had for us. How could that be offensive?
But here's the question - if all men and women are in fact created equal, then don't we have to treat them that way?
It is not hyperbole to say that we live in a country where black men - merely suspected of this or that or nothing at all - can lose their lives on a whim, but white mass murderers are taken to Burger King.
Characterizing kneeling for the anthem as disrespectful to the flag/veterans is a lazy and illogical diversion. It's like if someone characterized the #MeToo movement as 'anti-heterosexual', or actions against child abuse at the hands of priests as 'anti-Christian'. It just doesn't make sense.
At the core of the push-back against these protests is the inference that those who participate are unpatriotic; that they are disrespecting our flag, our veterans, and therefore our nation.
If the kneeling was about pushing us all to live up to the vision that our Founding Fathers had for us - then it was as patriotic as putting your hand over your heart!
African American loyalty to this nation cannot be credibly questioned. Arguably, we've given more, and gotten less, than any other group. African Americans have fought in every war - often for rights that were not even extended to us. We've created enormous wealth for this nation and drive American culture. African Americans have earned the right to prayerfully/peacefully implore America to live up to her founding ideals. Actually, to not do this is the real disrespect to our flag and to what our veterans - both white and black/brown - have fought so long for.