In general, I don’t like politics. They are sticky and people get so fired up about it all. Family members don’t talk to each other because of disagreements stemming from political ideologies. And there are often so many angles to the story that I must admit, I usually just don’t feel competent enough to speak on a given topic. On the other hand, I do feel more and more like I can relate to political issues. The topics in today’s news feel much closer to my door step than ever before.
Today, scrolling down my Facebook timeline reminded me of how diverse my “friends” are. I found myself getting annoyed at some of the commentary. So much so, that I picked up the phone and called my father. I had a particular question in mind and he was the best person to run the question by:
As a retired Marine, who served these United States for 30 years, how do you feel about professional athletes who have chosen to take a knee during the playing of our National Anthem?
Some background: I decided to ask my father this question because I felt like most of my ‘friends’ on Facebook were citing that by not standing with their hands over their hearts that these NFL players were unpatriotic, disrespectful, and ungrateful for the sacrifices that our uniformed men and women have made for our country. My father served this country – one he was not born in – for 30 years. My family served and we love the liberties and freedoms that this nation has provided us. I decided to ask my father because too often I feel like people take up issues with social causes that they haven’t bothered to truly understand.
I recall in 2013 or 2014 Volkswagen came out with a commercial with a majority non-Black cast, but the main character spoke in a Jamaican accent: the idea was that the New Beetle would make you “Be Happy”. Social media went a little crazy calling the commercial racist…. I checked with members of my family – we are Jamaican, if you were wondering – and they found no fault with the commercial. So why were non-Jamaicans more offended than we were? Fast forward to today, I feel like non-Black, non-uniformed individuals are the ones who want to shout from their social media pages about the protests they see today.
Now, back to my father…. In short, he supports these athletes who choose not to stand during the national anthem. “How?” you may ask yourself. Because we are missing the bigger picture! By not standing during the national anthem, the athletes are not protesting the American flag nor the anthem itself, nor are they “unpatriotic”. What they are protesting is the poor and racist treatment that Blacks and other minorities suffer in these blessed United States on a daily basis.
We have a freedom in America to peacefully protest – or is it just when you don’t agree, that such a protest becomes “unpatriotic”? I am sure each of them love this country (that’s what I believe a patriot is), but they feel like their country does not always love them back (and that is why I believe they protest). They bring you no harm. They mean no disrespect. Through their silence they are reminding you of the ugliness that still lives in the hearts of many. Through their bended knees they are reminding you that there are social injustices that need to be addressed.
So, spare me the talk of unpatriotic behavior. What are YOU doing to make America a better country? What are YOU doing to show love to your fellow Americans?