The Radical Notions of Kneeling and Speaking.

“Why does he think playing basketball makes him Malcom X?”

I saw these words written in response to Lebron James’ comments towards Donald Trump last week and a few thoughts came to mind:

  • Why can’t an African-American speak about something without having their “qualifications” questioned in return?
  • Piggy-backing off of the previous point: why does an African-American have to either be silently minding their own business or Martin Luther King Jr./ Malcom X/etc.?
  • Why should an athlete’s opinion matter any less than another person’s when there is constant reinforcement about how every person’s opinions matter in a democracy? Especially when the current president was a celebrity without any political qualifications himself just a few short years ago?

The recent mainstream resurgence of white supremacy has been thinly veiled behind the idea that white people are being discriminated and hated for the color of their skin, but you absolutely take out the legs of that argument when the opinions and motives of anyone who is not white are unprotected and warped without even a modicum of fair consideration.

The easiest example of this is the kneeling during the national anthem protest that has been happening in the NFL. Colin Kaepernick first took a knee to garner attention towards “many of the issues that face our community, including systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system.”- Eric Reid,[1]. So much has been said about whether this is respectful or disrespectful to the point where the conversation isn’t even about what their protesting. There’s a saying: if you don’t like what’s being said change the conversation. This is exactly what has happened here. Yes, it’s irregular to kneel when you should stand for the national anthem and that’s the point. If protesters get in the way of street traffic it’s not because they hate cars or people getting to work on time, it’s because it causes an inconvenience and disrupts the normal-everyday that gathers all the wrong and hides it behind just how O.K. and smooth normal life is for the average person.

But no, the narrative was changed and became about all a manner of different things from disrespecting veterans, the country, the flag, etc. No one against Colin, and now a large number of players, kneeling addressed or said a damn thing about the dialogue he was trying to create. Instead Colin Kaepernick was fired, and the NFL has been in its own civil war ever since between owners, players, and even the president himself.

Why could this not have become a discussion about the race issues that African-Americans? Why can’t Lebron James, a man who is heralded as the best in his sport and someone that is held responsible with positively influencing thousands, if not million, of people looking up to him, choose not to support or encourage a reckless president without having his intelligence questioned?

If it’s not about race then I don’t know what it’s about, because it certainly isn’t about a man who has been praised for his mental capacity and “the almost curious power of his mind” [2], or about a group of people defending veterans and military families while the republican party does little to show them their actual support. [3] [4] [5]

 

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/25/opinion/colin-kaepernick-football-protests.html

[2] http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/11067098/lebron-james-greatest-weapon-brain

[3] https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/trump-disabled-veterans-cuts/

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/trump-to-sign-veterans-heath-bill-as-white-house-works-against-plan-to-fund-it/2018/06/06/1763ac70-68d9-11e8-bf8c-f9ed2e672adf_story.html?utm_term=.be69b17c5abd

[5] https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/02/14/how-presidents-food-stamp-cuts-would-impact-military-families.html

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