Flag or Speech or What?

Kaepernick Protests Spark Debate and Fake News
Kaepernick Protests Spark Debate and Fake News

It was a little over a year ago that we first wrote about Colin Kaepernick. Based upon what he said we wrote that he is protesting the systematic mistreatment of minorities in the United States. He said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” What a difference a year makes!

We’ve gone from a single man exercising his constitutional right of free speech to the NFL tying itself in knots like a pretzel over their TV ratings. We’ve gone from a single man exercising his constitutional right of free speech to billionaire owners joining their millionaire players in some sanitized version of solidarity with the protest on the sidelines. We’ve gone from a single man exercising his constitutional right of free speech to the NFL telling its players that their rights of protest might end on Sundays. We’ve gone from a single man exercising his constitutional right to the President of the United States calling for the NFL to fire those that exercise that right.

Do you hear me! From a single Black man to billionaire owners to “plans” to eliminate free speech to President Donald Trump sending the message to fire those who join in. And Kaepernick isn’t even employed by the NFL anymore! How did it all get so out of hand? We have some thoughts.

  1. It was never about the flag. It was about the oppression of people of color and that’s real. The question the change of focus raises is whether or not the oppression of people and constitutional rights are more or less important than the nation’s symbolism.
  2. Blacks are still expected to stay in their place. Kaepernick is Black. Most NFL players are Black. Most of those protesting are Black. “Staying in one’s place” is still required since slavery and its aftermath have never been addressed.
  3. With the idea of white superiority and black inferiority in place for 400 years a Black man cannot reasonably be thought to say anything of consequence that disagrees with a White man. The visual of mostly Black players kneeling in protest about race and mostly White fans and owners saying “stand up” raises the specter of the plantation.
  4. Fans who have grown up with the fiction of Black inferiority and White superiority created to justify the Unpaid Labor System are blind to that fiction.

These are complex topics that do not lend themselves to being understood in sound bites. We write about them in general terms in articles on our website entitled Race in America-The Illusion that is RealandGuilt and Shame: The Twins of White Privilege and Unpaid Labor Contribution-Too Big to Ignore.

None of us knows where we go from here. The Unpaid Labor Project believes that the path forward on race in our country is to:

  • Acknowledge the Contribution of the first 12 generations of African Americans to the USA
  • Abolish the false idea of Black inferiority and White superiority, and
  • Advocate for national racial reconciliation

That would make a difference in all of our days for the better.

Race RelationsClifton Berry