Sunday, August 28, 2016

Of all the things that get your attention...

So Colin Kaepernick is in the news. Yeah, this happened a few days ago, and I am just now getting around to it. So, is he in the news for some kind of spectacular sporting achievement, nope. He is in the news because he refused to stand during the national anthem at a preseason football game. Oh lord the world is ending, and people are completely loosing their marbles over it.

He has his reasons, it was to protest the oppression of African Americans and other minorities in the United States. Now, it is his right to not stand for the national anthem, just like it is the right of any person who is offended by Kaepernick's actions to burn his jersey. You are free to say anything you want about the man, in support or against his actions.

I have seen a lot of people who are upset because this man, a man that makes millions of dollars a year throwing a ball around, has taken it upon himself to “disrespect” this or that, I don't even see it as being all that disrespectful. It would be a little different had he stood during the anthem, raised both hands and shot the flag the bird, then I could somewhat see why people would be offended. Look, just because the man makes millions of dollars, just because he is the Quarterback of a professional sports team with decades of history, does not mean that he has no right to speak on behalf of oppression.

He sees something wrong, hell, most of us see something wrong in this nation, and around the globe. He is speaking out about it, and you know what, this is not the first time he has spoken out, it is just now that he is taking it to another level. He felt that speaking via social media was not enough, his open and vocal support of #BlackLivesMatter, was not enough. I cannot condemn the man based on those feelings, I cannot condemn him for feeling as if not enough is being done about a problem that many of us see.

I will not condemn him, or any other athlete who uses their position in this life to speak out about the wrongs of our society. Their voice, while every bit as important as any other, carries with it a heavier weight. People tend to listen when well known athletes, musicians, authors, or actors speak. We might not like what they have to say, we might loose respect for some, based of their statements or actions, but we pay attention.

Where would we be in Mohammad Ali elected to not speak out against Vietnam? What if he decided that he would not fight being drafted. He gave a lot of people a voice in the darkness, a voice that said, I know this is wrong and I agree with you, lets change it. While Kaepernick's actions are not on par with stopping a war between nations, they are on par with the oppression of those who are not white straight and Christian, and we should be paying attention because he is not alone.

Lets hope in the way back machine, will go back 20 years, 1996. Here we have Mohmoud Abdul-Rauf of the NBA's Denver team. He refused to stand for the anthem, now, not being one to watch basketball, Why you ask? Because he said that the US flag stood for oppression and tyranny across the globe. People were angered, some Dee Jays went into a mosque and played the Star Spangled Banner, and everyone apologized with Abdul-Rauf electing to stand silently and pray during the song. Abdul-Rauf was bringing attention to American activities at home and abroad.

Like this instance, people went out of their way to prove the man correct in his statements. So, where does it stand... People are more upset and angry over an American Football player not standing for the national anthem, rather than being upset over why he didn't stand in the first place. Of all the things going on, the media being quiet about Native Americans and others protesting an oil pipeline through their reservation (including sacred ground), or why the price of an Epi-Pen is $300 each, maybe we should be wondering what happened to some 700,000 guns shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan which are now currently missing, and hardly a peep about the TSA mauling of a kid with a pacemaker... Maybe if we cared more about what was actually going on, rather than what an athlete did, we wouldn't have had oddities in the primaries, candidates who say anything (even outright lie) and never face accountability for it. Maybe, if we would pay attention to those things that really matter, like people being killed by police, or constant wars, this whole stupid affair wouldn't matter. But, nope, its more important that everyone respect the country, regardless of how right or wrong it is, and if you don't you are the bad guy. The response to Kaepernick has been horrid. Point made, some of us get it, some of us got it years ago, keep on doing what you are doing, eventually everyone will have to get it.