Tuesday, September 26, 2017

FINE! Let's Pretend It's About a Damn Flag and a Song!

Puerto Rico's death toll from Hurricane Maria has risen from 16 to nearly 3000, China is denying that they are holding over 1 million Uighurs in prison, despite all evidence to the contrary. Germany’s election just yielded 12.6% win for an alt-right and blatantly racist faction, and we all remember how that worked out last time. But no,  let’s ignore all that very scary shit to talk about how black people protest, because our jaundiced Julius Caesar wanted to focus on that all goddamn weekend, and it spilled into Monday, and NOW TUESDAY. Take the match away from your Nike gear for a minute, and listen up!...unless you're IN your Nike gear. In which case, have at it.
Let’s get one thing straight. NO ONE KNEELING IS DISRESPECTING THE NATION, THE ANTHEM, OR THE AMERICAN FLAG. Kaepernick himself said as much. He stated why he was kneeling: to bring attention to the unfair treatment that black and brown people STILL face today. Originally he was sitting, but he had a conversation with a Nate Boyer, a former Seahawk and military veteran, who told him it would be better/more powerful to kneel, as that could not be misconstrued as disrespect. He likely forgot that Colin Kaepernick is black, so anything he does will inevitably be scrutinized and framed negatively.
Kneeling is NOT a form of disrespect. Not in the history of modern civilization has kneeling for ANYTHING been a form of disrespect for ANYONE. It has ALWAYS been about respect for superiors, physical or metaphysical, reverence for the fallen, or a manner to tie one’s shoes. Season 7 of Game of Thrones ENTIRE plot has revolved around Jon Snow’s knee and to whom he’d bend it…also consensual incest and dragon proprietary rights. But STILL, Sersei and Daenerys weren’t begging Jon Snow to disrespect them. This explanation has gone off the rails, much like the point of the original protest. And that was precisely the goal of the “respect the anthem” faux patriotic rhetoric. People are not offended by an act of non-disrespect. They are mad that black people are exercising their rights as if they’re American, and they must now think about things about which they are uncomfortable.
Detractors further prove that point by pointing out from whence Colin Kaepernick came. He is biracial and was adopted by a white family that was well-off. He went to a good university and made millions. For this, he is framed as unfit to protest anything. He’s “ungrateful”. He is “disrespecting his upbringing. How disrespectful is an athlete being if it turns out their parents are proud of their actions and after said parents are ostensibly called a bitch by the goddamn president of the United States? What is the economic echelon at which one should protest injustice of a community? What is that sweet spot between “Get a job you lazy bum” and “why are you whining you’re rich”? What color grade must one’s parents match where getting good grades, going to college, and attaining a coveted spot on a national sports team precludes one from speaking out about something in which they believe? No one has illustrated the enigmatic metric for when someone has a “right” to protest, though. Except for the team owners, no critic is paying these athletes’ salaries. They didn’t put them through college or took their tests for them. I’m quite certain that their parents didn’t take them aside and say, “Now young Colin, I’ll feed you and house you and help you with school, but by no means say anything about institutional racism when you grow up.” The term “Ungrateful” is just a kind way to say, “Shut up, you uppity niggers”.
When a black person’s station in life is brought up, it is often married with what they SHOULD be doing instead of kneeling, as if that is the only thing that they are doing. “Put your money where your mouth is instead of disrupting my Sunday sportsball time!” The fault of that argument is that not only are humans capable of performing multiple tasks at once, but also, Colin Kaepernick himself has invested nearly $1 million of his own money to the causes in which he believes and hours of volunteer time. This is possible, because he is human. Many protesters are met with this, as if they only know how to make picket signs and stand and yell their grievances. When it comes to activism, protesters, much like improve troupes, use the “yes, and…” approach to activism, where while they are planning for their next demonstration, they are also getting meetings with elected officials, running voting drives for people vulnerable to disenfranchisement, holding tutoring sessions for youth, etc. To think that a person is kneeling and ONLY kneeling is a derision of their character as a human being. It is lazy racism to think that a person is so lazy that they can only do one thing.
Now that we know why these NFL players, especially Colin Kaepernick, took a knee during the anthem, let’s all pretend that the people who don’t like these uppity black millionaires exercising their rights as American actually ARE protesting the fabric of America, including the anthem, the flag, and the veterans. When this country was born, blacks were not included in the “We the People” part. It wasn’t until Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 that “Negroes” were acknowledged. At that, it was only for state representation. The plantation owners of the South didn’t like that their states would have lower representation due to their lower populations in relation to their Northern colleagues. This compromise would boost their numbers, meaning
they would have more representatives and more influence in Congress. The Constitutional Convention decided that 3/5 was a reasonable ratio to count black folks to bolster the South’s numbers. So not only were black people not considered 100% human, they were being used to uplift whites both on paper and physically with no hope of returns for their efforts. The Electoral College is actual plantation math. When that wasn’t enough, a Civil War broke out. After the North won, Reconstruction was supposed to help, but it collapsed, and Jim Crow was law. Then came US government-mandated segregated housing, hospitals, schools, and even retail venues in both the North and the South. Oregon was originally founded to be a bastion for whites only. Any time a black (or Chinese) community got “too successful”, white neighbors would burn it to the ground with residents still in it, and the survivors would be pushed farther into a non-visible corner. Even Central Park was built at the peril of a nice black neighborhood. confederate monuments popped up any time people of color made a modicum of headway in vying for equality. Thousands of people have been hanged over the years. If anyone has a right to kneeling to mourn the lack of American inclusion, it is people of color.
Then there are all the wars fought. Black people fought in nearly every war in this country, all the way back to the American Revolution. They fought with valor and honor. They risked their lives and were often put in even worse positions than their white counterparts. They were told they couldn’t handle leadership positions, deep sea diving, piloting planes, Marine training, Special Forces training, and every time, they unequivocally proved those notions wrong. Despite that, they received fewer Medals of Honor, fewer Purple Hearts, fewer accolades from the country for which they risked their lives. When they came home, instead of ticker tape, they were greeted with the same abuse and murder that they often fought against overseas. White residents would accuse black soldiers of stealing their uniforms. One black veteran was accusing of lying about his service and denied service at a restaurant just last year. How is that “paying respect to veterans”? Beside the fact that they are not railing against the congress people who continually either vote against or do nothing about legislation to improve the VA system, detractors need to admit that they only care about white veterans.
Bristling at the thought that one only cares about white veterans? About to create the #AllVeteransMatter hashtag? I’ll ease up on that, and talk about the national anthem that kneelers are supposedly disrespecting. First, here is the whole thing:
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner - O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto - “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
That third verse, tho…That is the banger. “No refuge could save the hireling and slave, from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” That line refers to the black slaves who attempted to and did escape slavery to fight for the British for their freedom. Francis Scott Key was calling for the deaths of black British regiments in the war. He wanted them to suffer. Black soldiers fought on both sides of this conflict, though. So was he just against blacks who fought against the US? It is doubtful. He was a slave owner himself, after all, and of the Africans in America, he said that they area distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community”. So I don’t think he was a fan.
In 1833, he was City District Attorney for Washington, where he worked hard to stifle the efforts of abolitionists. He did little to punish the instigators of pro-slavery mobs, and he defended a series of gag rules to table anti-slavery petitions (sound familiar?). After a riot against a free black restaurant owner, Key sought to prosecute Reuben Crandall for simply HAVING abolitionist literature in a trunk. This trunk was found by US marshals who were off-duty slave catchers. Their search of his property was legally murky at best (sound familiar?). Key wanted him hanged for this, but he Crandall was acquitted.
One time, as documented in Snowstorm in August about the 1835 race riots, a free Potomac woman was fleeing from police constables trying to attack her, and she fell off a bridge into a river and drowned. Nothing was done about this, of course, and an abolitionist newspaper pointed that out. “There is neither mercy nor justice for colored people in this district…No fuss or stir was made about it. She was got out of the river, and was buried, and there the matter ended.”
Instead of even attempting to bring to justice the constables who caused this crime, Key railed against the paper who published the critique, saying that the newspaper intended to “to injure, oppress, aggrieve & vilify the good name, fame, credit & reputation of the Magistrates & constables of Washington County.”
Bottom Line: Francis Scott Key was a piece of shit. He made a shitty song that called for the deaths of black folk, and he always thought of black folks as lower than human and only good for subjugation. So IF all this kneeling were about the national anthem, IF it were about the fabric of the United States and the American flag, then why not? Who in their right mind would pay reverence to an institution that was born with the idea to only gain free labor and congress seats from them, that after slavery still intended to humiliate and denigrate them, whose national song is one that is a call for their deaths for the crime of striving to be the free person that the institution claims as its cornerstone, whose author thinks so lowly of them? Before anyone PMs me and says that if I don’t like it here (something I didn’t say, btw), then I should go back to Africa, you’d better damn well have all the visa papers filled out for me and the boarding pass.
Do you want black people and other people of color to be truly equal, or just to develop Stockholm syndrome so that you can ignore their voices a little bit longer? They’re not “ungrateful” or “disrespectful”. Just be honest and say what you really mean. They’re just like the rest of us: uppity niggers who are expressing themselves the way you don’t want them to. Every American who claims to believe in equality needs to ask themselves a question: If you are mad at black athletes for kneeling for a song that literally calls for their deaths, written by a person who never cared about their lives, then who is the real patriot here?

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