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Est. April 5, 2002
September 08, 2016 - Issue 665

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Do We Need Another
Rosa Moment In 2016?


"Colin Kaepernick said it took time for him
to decide how to express himself, but he's
solidly comfortable with his methodology,
 even if it costs him endorsements or his spot
 on the 49ers’ roster (because he is being
 covertly threatened) — as he attempts to
 shine yet another light on and race relations
 and police brutality, specifically."

Some say that history repeats itself, while I say that the song is just very, very long and is still playing. I speak specifically to race and racism in America. The reason why we have yet to make significant progress toward eliminating racism is because we have yet to clear up past offenses; instead, we allow more to be piled onto the current mountain of grievances, as opposed to ever clearing the deck.

The old adage goes, “you can’t miss what you never had.” I find that adage true as it applies to women, music and anti-racism. It’s nothing new if it mimics what’s already been (sure I’ll leave you to wrestle with that one). Sure, the United States doesn’t blatantly flaunt its ideology of racial superiority, but it does inject lethal reminders of Black racial inferiority. These truths, I hold to be self-evident.

Take Colin Kaepernick…he’s the star quarterback of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. At the time of this writing, he’s sparking a national conversation in light of his decision to sit during the pre-game performance of the national anthem. He publicly and eloquently justified his actions and the young man is not changing his tune.

The sixth-year player has been praised for his actions in some quarters and vilified in many others, with some fans even burning his jersey. He appears to be committed and wedded to his recent stance. He's prepared for further backlash from fans, especially on the road. I have to ask, why would he have to back down? It’s not because this response from a swath of America is new, it’s because the saga known as racism, is alive and well—and beginning a new chapter. One Fox host has taken bigoted audaciousness to new lows, saying that Kaepernick, who’s biracial, should be grateful for his life in the United States because he is fortunate enough to be raised by two white parents.

In the latter part of August—just as the NFL pre-season is winding down—he gave a 20-minute interview to reporters at the 49er’s training facility. Kaepernick, who has sat during The Star Spangled Banner for each of the 49ers' preseason games so far, said: "I'll continue to sit. ... I'm going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change, and when there's significant change — and I feel like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way it's supposed to — I'll stand."

As for me, I am proud; proud of Colin Kaepernick. If I owned an NFL team, he’d have a home for life; but since I don’t, I can be 100% supportive of a young man—Black man—who chose to stand up for the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons, using the right venue. Right now, Kaepernick is giving us another Rosa Parks moment. He’s going sit on this bus called freedom…until it stops at justice.

Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the playing of the national anthem is all American. If you really want to uproot the underlying silence embedded within all of this, just read the words to the “Star Spangled Banner…” all stanzas. . .

The third verse of the National Anthem is based in racism and a longing for slavery—at least a retribution against those who wanted to be free(d). That’s right, I said it. Most of us in America have not an inkling that those were the words penned by Francis Scott Key, the man foisted on us as a hero—a hero who sat in a lock-up outside of Fort McHenry. That part is a lie too—for the sake of the institution: the same way Colin Kaepernick is being castigated for standing up for truth and justice, while even Black players and high notables are telling us he should be silent for the sake of the institution. Now if that don’t trump all (pardon the pun)!

"At the end of the day, if something happens, that’s only proving my point," he said.

Kaepernick told NFL Network on Friday night that he chose not to stand because: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder." He has since stated that his remarks are not meant as disrespect toward the military—as several veterans stand with him.

Muhammad Ali did the same thing a decade after Parks did. It cost him so much of the American Dream that he had to play catch up—with his life. He shouldn’t have had to play catch up. But what many don’t understand is that Kaepernick’s act isn’t selfish (despite many NFL players labeling it as such). No, his remark was selfless. The voice of those being seen as invisible, those listening to the busy signal of inequality or those bearing envelopes of unopened justice, Kaepernick is sitting for them. I could only pray that my 14 grandchildren, nieces and nephews would learn to sit on their God-given right to equal humanity.

Kaepernick said it took time for him to decide how to express himself, but he's solidly comfortable with his methodology — even if it costs him endorsements or his spot on the 49ers’ roster (because he is being covertly threatened) — as he attempts to shine yet another light on and race relations and police brutality, specifically.

Now, that’s a man. "There are a lot things that are going on that are unjust," he said. "People aren’t being held accountable for. And that’s something that needs to change. That’s something that this country stands for freedom, liberty and justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now." Those are not the words of a selfish man— in the least.

It’s time for another Rosa Parks moment. Racial injustice and white supremacy thrive. It’s time to jumpstart not a conversation but our activism to end this scourge on America’s proud tapestry of diversity. Kaepernick is giving us that Rosa Parks moment. It’s about time. Columnist, Perry Redd, longtime activist & organizer, is the Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere
that currently owns the FCC license for WOOK-LP 103.1FM/ His latest book,
Perry NoName: A Journal From A Federal Prison-book 1, chronicles his ‘behind bars’ activism that extricated him from a 42-year sentence and is now case law. He is also the author of As A Condition of Your Freedom: A Guide to Self-Redemption From Societal Oppression, Mr. Redd also hosts a radio show, Socially Speaking, from his Washington, DC studio. Contact Mr. Redd and BC.

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