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What is America?

By: S. Davis

Photo: Canva

 

Colin Kaepernick began his silent protest, sitting, on the bench for three games during preseason action before there was any uproar. Once noticed he respectfully declined interviews for weeks. His demonstration flew under the radar as he put himself on the bench instead of kneeling. When he finally gave an interview for his actions he stated that he was going to continue “to stand with the people who are being oppressed. When there’s significant change and the flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.” It was a response to combat racial injustice and systematic oppression and to lend his voice to those “dying in vain.” He was protesting the failure of the country to be a place for all, to be a place protective of all its citizens.

Kaepernick expressed his “great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country.” He’s aware that our military “fights for freedom, they fight for the people, and for liberty and justice for everyone.” He also said that “people are dying in vain” because “freedom, justice and liberty” isn’t being afforded to “everybody.”

To ensure that he wasn’t being disrespectful to the military he met with Green Beret Nate Boyer who advised him to kneel for the last preseason game in deference to the flag. Boyer stated, “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect. When we’re on a patrol and we go into a security halt, we take a knee, and we pull security.” He talked to a veteran so it wouldn’t be twisted and viewed as unpatriotic.

At that point, most of America lost their minds and ignored the reasons why he decided on his course of action. Entirely.

It was never about Kaepernick craving attention. If that was the case he would’ve brought attention to himself before anyone noticed him on the sidelines. He avoided that.

As for the anthem – written by F. Scott Key; a lawyer, poet and staunch anti-abolitionist – it’s trash and African-Americans don’t have to stand for it. It wasn’t written for them or any minority to be frank. Lastly, the great writer of the Star-Spangled Banner owned slaves. It’s abhorrent that it’s the song to represent ALL Americans. No.

Is that patriotic?

As for Kaepernick the player, yes, he experienced a notable decline after his ascent. That can’t be denied. However he also spent his last few seasons as a starter recovering from injury, mind you. He dealt with a changing franchise around him, a coaching purge and a below average skill position group, notably at receiver; I don’t think any of them are still in the NFL. His receivers also led the league in total drops. With that he started 11 games and lost 10 if I recall. Bad. The entire team was responsible for that record; not solely one player. He threw 16 touchdowns to four interceptions with a 59% completion percentage. Since when is a 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio indicative of a washed up quarterback? He’s credentialed to be an NFL starter today.

It’s not unpatriotic to protest an oppressive government that won’t look in the mirror. When that anthem plays there are a lot of people on their phones, selling and buying concessions, laughing and joking, etc. Playing the national anthem before sporting events is an American tradition. I’ve attended soccer matches across the world and there was one time where a national anthem was performed. It was done to honor the recent death of a police officer; other countries don’t do it. Also the NFL started this TRADITION of having players on the field for it all the way back in…2009. History.

Had he been named Tom Brady and took a knee, white people wouldn’t have an issue at all. They’d scream, “Yeah, you know Brady’s right about America. We need to make things equal. GO PATS!”

It’s Kaepernick’s right or anyone’s right to protest. Those are the liberties that soldiers fight for; not a piece of cloth. (If the NFL cared so much about patriotism they wouldn’t have collected six figures per team, at least the teams that were reported, for “paid patriotism.” Secondly, if America cared so much about its veterans then none of them would be homeless and arriving home broken and left on their own.)

Now his right to protest doesn’t protect him from the backlash but there wouldn’t be one if people stopped screaming to listen. There are so few people who listen to one another anymore. Those that are angry and loud are just a sample size of the larger problem.

America was founded on a protest. He’s protesting racism. It still exists. Minorities aren’t making it up. We protested England because they were oppressive and wanted to hold us under rule. Was it un-British of us to break away from the crown?

America.

Was does it stand for anymore? Depending on where or who you are, and your skin color – because America always reminds you of it – your response will vary. It’s obvious that it’s no longer a land for everyone. It’s been made clear that a select few are deemed fit to attempt to even participate in the American Dream.

Protest? I’ve been ruminating on the label affixed to the NFL players in regards to their demonstrations during the national anthem; again, which was penned by a slave owner and wasn’t representative of a multicultural America. It isn’t a protest.

Complaints coming in state that the national anthem is “not the time” to protest; however the players have chosen to be silent in their “protest.” Choosing silence in an attempt to express deference to the flag and the national anthem; Kaepernick took a knee to be respectful. Protests are meant to disrupt and make everyone uncomfortable. To protest is to express an objection to what someone has said or done. It is to be a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something.

Now we’re splitting hairs at this point but I don’t want to label the actions of the NFL players as a protest by the standard definition. It’s a call to attention. To shed light on centuries of oppression – and the vicious ripples it creates – that minorities are too familiar with while the whites in America wish to avoid the conversation or dismiss it as “nonexistent” or something that happened “years ago.”

Don’t protest! Protest at a different time! Make sure it’s a silent protest if you do! Let’s focus on that last one. So a silent protest is what America wants? OK! America’s so progressive and we’ll accept a silent protest because it’s neat and tidy for the country, correct?

I know this is true because a lifetime of silent protests and speaking out eloquently on the plight of African-Americans and other minorities in ‘merica led to a long, healthy life – and peaceful death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was afforded the time to see his children age into adulthood before he expired due to natural causes and old age.

Silent protest! America’s amenable to that.

What does the flag represent? Initially it stood for the extermination and exploitation of Native Americans. It’s a complicated symbol for African-Americans. In present day it’s waved in the face of Muslims and Mexicans and to them it says they’re not welcome on these shores. Is this representative of America?

This is a country of immigrants. When the Europeans invaded these shores guess what they were doing? Immigrating to a land that didn’t ask for them; so now we’re turning our backs on the plight of the immigrants that mean us no harm? Who want to create better lives for themselves and their families? There’s hypocrisy in that. Are all men created equal…here?

Yet someone taking a knee – on advice from a military veteran – or raising a fist is unpatriotic?

So is it acceptable that some groups in our country clutch the American flag in one hand and a Confederate flag in the other? A Nazi flag stitched together with an American flag and draped over someone’s shoulders? How about when the red-white-and-blue is waved in the hands of those wearing pointed white hoods spewing hate speech – and the purity of a white (only) nation?

Why isn’t that detestable? Why isn’t that unpatriotic? Why aren’t the majority of Americans or ALL Americans upset about that?

America.

Visit The Barber?

By: S. Davis

Funny how in the aftermath of the Michael Vick interview with Jason Whitlock people are now jumping behind a guy that was maligned for his play as a quarterback and the decisions he made on and off the field of play. So he’s the one to rally behind as it relates to Colin Kaepernick’s abilities under center? Oh the lines people draw….

Vick had to ingratiate himself to any and all who would listen. Furthermore he needed the vetting of Tony Dungy just to get the ball rolling on his NFL career when he was released from prison. His advice to Kaepernick was genuine and I feel that he was doing it for the greater good of the quarterback’s future – but you have to view it from Vick’s distinct point of view. There were steps to take; he had a list of objectives he needed to meet in order to earn his desired result: employment in the National Football League. His whole existence – as far as the NFL is concerned – is to redeem himself in the eyes of the power brokers. Even now, as a retired player, he’s still on the redemption tour when doing goodwill for his  youth camps and outreach for his commitments related to charities involving animals. These are the lenses in which he’s viewing Kaepernick – and the barriers he’s facing in resuming his career.

It is not even close to being in the same universe.

Football is my favorite sport but I personally may go without my favorite way to kill time – until Kaepernick is signed or he retires. So people who have taken lives, although not through convicted murder, can line up on Sundays. You can beat your wife and assault other human beings, drive drunk and kill animals but someone who happens to be African-American QUIETLY protests and that’s the line? That’s the transgression that the league deems as too extreme?

We can’t have that in our game!

How odd is that? Why don’t white people, by and large, understand that the American experience isn’t the same for everyone? It isn’t.

Hey, white people do you remember that tiny, secret, work-exchange program called slavery. It happened. No matter how much you want to forget it. Listen this isn’t a diatribe against white America but we all view this country based on our experiences. Your worldview is built upon those experiences – and the black experience is not remotely close to those who happen to be in the majority in America.

Why the hell are white people so sensitive about the truth of this country? This ridiculous stance the league is taking against Kaepernick is proof.

Vick needed a fresh start. He was convicted of a crime and went to jail. He needed to make things right and be redeemed. There was a legitimate stigma and baggage that followed him. He had a mandate to be presentable to the 32 owners and general managers in the league.

Kaepernick carries no such baggage and, no, he doesn’t need to visit the barber. He doesn’t need to apologize. He doesn’t need to seek redemption. He didn’t do anything wrong.

On the “Dan Patrick Show” yesterday Vick was thoughtful and apologetic. “I think it was taken out of context in regards to what I was trying to convey, but I only want to help Colin Kaepernick. I’m not a general manager, I’m not the guy who makes the decisions on getting him signed, and I’m truly sorry for what I said. I think I should have used a better choice of words. Obviously we all know his afro has nothing to do with him not being signed.”

Why isn’t he signed to a contract yet? It’s the end of July. There are not 32 quarterbacks in the league fit to start. Kaepernick was a handful of plays away from having a Super Bowl ring on his hand. He had 16 touchdowns against four interceptions last season when possessions/turnovers is the most important facet of football. There’s not a single job for him?

Outside of the game, he’s an activist donating time and money to the causes that inspire him. If Tom Brady led the exact silent protest I wonder how he would be viewed, covered and dissected. I know the answer, he’d have a church erected in his honor and the country would cite him as the coming of a new deity. People already worship him as if he is one.

If whites protest an issue that draws their attention they’re viewed as passionate and true Americans whereas any protest involving African-Americans (and other minorities) get labeled as malcontents, mobs, and breeding a dangerous element. It’s shameful and the media covers things in such a way where it’s normal for them to pass those adjectives out.

This country was started on a rebellion. Americans wanted freedom of expression, clear of tyranny and rule from Great Britain. America protested. America fought. American gained its independence and in that same vein mandated that its citizens do the same. Yet a quarterback staging a quiet and personal protest against the National Anthem – which was penned by a slave owner and anti-abolitionist – is wrong for exercising his right? What he’s doing couldn’t be more American in nature.

He doesn’t need to apologize. He doesn’t need to seek redemption. He didn’t do anything wrong.

Got An NFL Starter Here, Wait…

By: S. Davis

There are 32 starting quarterback jobs in the NFL. There are a few depth charts where the man taking the snaps is completely locked in at his position; New England, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Green Bay, New York (Giants), Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, etc. However there are not 32 starting caliber quarterbacks in the league (I’m counting rookies projected to start this upcoming season). I count 11-13 franchises that should take a deep look at the man tasked with being their leader, on the field.

Colin Kaepernick is still unsigned. It’s July.

Is it possible that an injury brings him into a camp in a few weeks? Yes. Possible, yet improbable as I’m sure a new, manufactured, reason would quickly sprout out of the blue to justify keeping him floating in free agency. The NFL – as a whole – has made a decision and it fills me with dread. I care more about the NFL than just about every other sport I consume, maybe combined. I love football. The chess match of offense versus defense, the coaching game plans, how a certain defense will strategize all the ways to limit the best offensive player – and vice versa. It’s such a layered game.

This space, here, covers a multitude of topics, genres, sports, etc. My passion for the NFL is a pillar of my website as I write about it more frequently than anything else. How the league has banded together, in unison, to exclude Kaepernick puts me in a corner – and I may focus more on MMA and the NBA. In the ongoing issue regarding his return to the field, I don’t think I’ll be able to write about football in the same way I’ve grown accustomed to. I may put my pen down for the whole season. This makes me want to stop writing about the game altogether.

I wasn’t a cheerleader of Kaepernick during his glory days but I’ve always respected his abilities. I respect what he felt he needed to do. Let’s not forget that he didn’t seek out cameras during his silent protest. There were two or three weeks where it wasn’t picked up by ANYONE…and then, well, we’re in July and he doesn’t have a job when he should be under center…today.

The stats don’t need to be drawn out here but he threw 16 TD/4 INT while completing 59.2% of his passes. He had the sixth lowest completion percentage of any quarterback in the league – which is nothing to disregard. He did have a record of 1-10 in the games in which he started last season and that means something. What about the coaching changes after Jim Harbaugh left town? Jim Tomsula? Gone. Chip Kelly? There’s the door, sir.

Shouldn’t stability speak for something? What about roster turnover? The San Francisco 49ers’ roster is comprised of spare parts that can be purchased in Spanish Harlem – and has been a revolving door in the last two seasons. Does none of that factor into the equation here? How about the fact that his receiving group led the league in drops; isn’t that substantial? That isn’t something he can control and yet the league is keeping him out.

It only matters that a man of color didn’t stand for the national anthem. Why is the NFL comfortable with a national anthem that was penned by a slave owner and an anti-abolitionist? Why is the country? That’s fine though. Why isn’t that disrespectful?

A starting caliber quarterback will sit on the sidelines – his career probably over – because the powerful NFL felt it was out of line for an African-American to highlight that the American experience isn’t the same for every citizen within its borders. By and large the masses are totally fine with their stance and it’s disgusting but not surprising at all in 2017. There are things about this country that will never change. It’s now being viewed through the lenses of the biggest sport in the United States.

That Second Amendment

By: S. Davis

At the time when pen met paper to create the U.S. Constitution, our country was young and still strengthening its walking legs, we were in our infancy as an independent nation. The true threat of foreign invaders – predominantly British – was ever-present and to combat that the Constitution reflected the feelings of this country’s architects.

The Second Amendment is a product of its time; it was thought out and written as a response to the fear that Great Britain would invade our shores once more and place us under their rule. As humans, as Americans, have slowly evolved we’ve noticed that there are a myriad of laws and subjects concerning the creating of this nation that we now view as misguided, wrong and appalling but were quite fine with the Framers at the time they were conceptualized and scribbled on paper.

Some legislation needs to be put in place, any legislation. There shouldn’t be a time where people go to safe places such as schools, churches, malls, movie theatres, etc., and take their last breath on this planet by unknowingly walking into a whirlwind of bullets.

Guns will always be an ill of society – like drugs, greed, abuse of power, income inequality, etc. – and I’m not suggesting that law-abiding citizens be punished or have their homes raided for their weapons. However the thought of inaction in the face of another shooting is disappointing. Mind you, two more shootings took place on the campuses of Northern Arizona University and Texas Southern University in the last 24 hours.

Are we Americans? Are we humans? Are we devoid of compassion? How can we boast to the rest of the world that we’re a civilized society with the archaic gun laws in the U.S.A.? How can we point fingers at others in judgment while we simultaneously point easily accessible firearms at one another and pull the trigger without a second thought?

Sure, gun rights advocates will offer condolences to the bereaved but I get the feeling that in the very moment they turn their backs – and cock their guns – they think to themselves, “Well…they should have been armed.” That was the ongoing narrative in the wake of Sandy Hook, overwhelmingly. Will it take a school full of kids that have parents with influence inside the NRA to die tragically, in senseless gunfire, before something tangible gets done in Washington?

It’s time to tackle, revise and evolve the gun issue on Capitol Hill, it’s long overdue.