The goal of any protest is to create civil unrest and to make society aware of the issues a marginalized group is facing–issues society might not have known of had there not been a public display of discontentment made about them.
Back in September 2016, Colin Kaepernick, the former starting quarterback for the San Franciso 49ers took a knee during the singing of the National Anthem before an NFL game. And, in doing so, he has created a hurricane of civil unrest, even provoking the president to call for the firing of SOBs who kneel during the national anthem. Even I, personally, have experienced the scathing reactions of former friends and colleagues who were made unrested by the protests Kaepernick and all those who followed his suit were involved in.
When it comes to the “making society aware of issues” effect protests are intended to create, though, I feel the vast majority, due to the unrelenting misrepresentation by the media, failed to see what Colin Kaepernick was trying to bring attention to–systematic racism/white supremacy.
He wasn’t protesting The National Anthem (even though he would have sufficient grounds to do so being that it was written by a slave owner and originally had racist lyrics in it).
He wasn’t protesting nor disrespecting the flag, which the media tirelessly tried to paint as the narrative.
He wasn’t dissing the United States military, and, as a matter of fact, it was a veteran who gave him the idea to protest in that fashion.
And, he wasn’t just protesting police brutality, but, rather, he was protesting the driving force behind the alarming rates of unarmed black men being murdered by police and the disgusting frequency at which the police who commit these murders are not prosecuted–systematic racism/white supremacy.
He made it very clear that he was protesting white supremacy in the KTVU interview he did right after he initially began taking a knee.
White supremacist media outlets like Fox News have accused Colin and those who support him of protesting everything under the sun except systematic racism. Their reason for doing so: The white supremacists, the ones with real power (for example Rupert Murdoch since we’re touching on Fox News) understand white supremacy needs propaganda to make the public complicit in keeping this power system based on race firmly in place.
The narrative of Colin Kaepernick protesting white supremacy in America doesn’t play in the favor of the dominant society. Because, if that’s the narrative, more people are going to start learning what institutionalized racism looks like. If more people start knowing what it looks like, how it operates, and how, at the end of the day, it harms our country, more people be willing to challenge it.
Recently, Kaepernick signed a deal with Nike to be their spokesman, which has spurred extreme reactions, and, since then, he has been featured in their new presentation advertising their “Just Do It” campaign.
While I’m happy that Kaepernick is getting his money (a man that actually will use it in a constructive way) and while I love seeing the white supremacists so so very butthurt…
…black people (African American Descendants of Slaves) must be careful to not see him getting this contract as some type of victory for our tribe.
We must remember and keep our focus on why Colin was protesting in the first place, and we must continue to study and put in the work needed to challenge white supremacy.
It’s not about Nike or about “just doing it.” It’s about understanding what our specific claim is as a tribe and collectively challenging politicians on every level of government to provide us with resources that meet our specific needs.
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