I tend to address most breaking news after the dust settles, because there’s so much misinformation in the first 24 hours that it takes another week for me to sort out the real from the overblown. The current situation, however, is a bit different. I’m seeing the real, and it’s being distorted into some fairly unbelievable assertions, which is making the blowup titanically asinine and damaging in a wide spray pattern.
Yep, I’m talking about the TakeAKnee hysteria.
I’m appalled at how fast this entire thing has gone twisted into something it’s not. Folks who damn well ought to know better are ranting about disrespect to the flag and how this is all about sticking a thumb in Trump’s eye. A truly horrific number of folks are wandering around lost and bleating that they just don’t understand, why does football have to be involved in politics, and what are these people even kneeling for anyway? I even saw someone ask how kneeling could possibly help Puerto Rico…
… at which point I screamed out loud and headed for this blog.
Let’s back up and start with historical fact.
In the long-ago era of 2016, Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the pre-game anthem. He did this with a clear and absolute intent to protest structural racial discrimination in America, most specifically from police. In 2016, over 230 black people were fatally shot by police. 39 of those were unarmed. I won’t put up videos, but take a moment, if you’ve never heard these names, and look up Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, and Alton Sterling. Those names, and literally dozens of others across the last few years alone, are why Kaepernick knelt in the first place.
As for kneeling being disrespectful, take a look at this twitter thread:.
In 2017, we already have a handful of problematic deaths involving police across the entire country. Let’s see:
Jose Nieves : “Nieves was moving furniture into his apartment when his sister says the officer, who is his neighbor, started harassing his girlfriend.”
Trevon Johnson : “The first deputy to arrive got into a fight with the teen, leading to the “officer-involved shooting,” according to authorities.”
Dora Clarke : “Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster has said it appears Doss was speeding without using his emergency lights or siren, which goes against department policy and state law. ”
Zachary Anam : “…19-year-old Zachary Anam fatally shot himself while handcuffed in the back of a police car in downtown Austin.”
Jose Antonio Hernandez. : “After being Tased, the coroner says the suspect got into the police car and the officer fired several shots. The police car then rolled backwards and hit a tree.”
Tashii Brown: “The Clark County district attorney’s office filed a criminal complaint charging Lopera with involuntary manslaughter and oppression under color of office”
That takes us through May. You know what, I’m gonna skip over June, July, and August. There are just as many problematic police related deaths in those months. I’ll wrap up with the most recent:
Magdiel Sanchez : “Police in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night fatally shot a deaf man who they say was advancing toward them with a metal pipe as witnesses yelled that the man was deaf and could not hear them.”
If you’d like to do your own research, wander over to Killed By Police. It’s depressing as fuck, but you might get an idea of the scale we’re discussing here.
I’ll pause a moment and say: absolutely, many of those deaths were justified in context. No question. I will not argue that one bit. But the ones that are troubling … are troubling.
Take that uneasy frown you have after reading the above linked stories, multiply it by about three hundred years of not being able to trust the law enforcement arm of the government only because of the color or your skin. Add in an authoritarian sitting president who actively encourages and is encouraged by openly racist supporters, all of whom literally advocate for law enforcement to harm, consequence-free, those who disagree with them. Add in a lot of white people constantly asking “why can’t you just get over slavery already? Racism is over, grow up!”
The result of that complex equation–which, I’ll note, is way more involved than the few factors I mentioned above–is a whole lot of extremely justified rage.
That’s why Kaepernick knelt. That’s why the football players are kneeling today. It’s a silent, respectful protest designed to bring attention to the very, very ugly things happening to America right this moment. It doesn’t matter what anyone wants it to be. Trump can bleat all he wants about “the issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race”; the people kneeling are the ones who get to define why they’re kneeling, and they’re explicitly, straight out telling anyone who asks that YES THIS IS ABOUT RACE. And police brutality. And systemic inequality.
This post isn’t intended to cover the complex scope of this situation. It’s intended to drive the asshat twisting of reality into a none-too-soon grave. Don’t listen to fucknuts like Kid Rock (who wears a flag as a poncho, remember?), Trump (who’s willing to ascribe goodness to a crowd of white supremacists but not to the men they’re advocating killing), and your wandering soul of a friend or relative who doesn’t know sweet fuckall about anything other that what FB buddies and Faux News say.
Fight me on facts. Fight me all you want. Argue statistics. Haul out proof of your assertions. Fine. We can agree to disagree as long as we’re looking at real data that we both accept as valid. (Warning: using anything from Breitbart or similar sites will get you summarily shitcanned from my feed. There are zero facts growing in that field.)
Racism fucking SUCKS. It’s COMPLICATED. It doesn’t fit easily into memes and sound bites unless you’re dealing with an audience that’s really well educated on the topic in the first place. When the memes drawn from ignorance float across shallow minded acceptance into the wider pool, facts get fucked up fast.
Please, if you see anyone reposting nonsense on this issue, stand up and speak out. Establish facts. That’s all I ask. You don’t have to agree. You can think it’s disrespectful to kneel during the anthem! That’s fine. But you goddamn will do so with a full and fact based awareness of what you’re talking about.
Quite honestly, I’m betting that suddenly it won’t look that disrespectful after all….