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Taking a Stand by Sitting

Last Sunday, in the prelude to a NFL football game, one player set off another range war between uber-nationalists and the rest of the world. The player is, of course, Colin Kaepernick, the one-time golden arm of the San Francisco 49ers who did not rise for the singing of the national anthem.

Few if any would have even noticed had it not been for those who viscerally perceive the smallest slight to flag or country and demand a level of rage usually kept in reserve for child molesters. In their America, men must weep at the sight of the flag, drop and grovel before the military and attack anyone who dares to question USA exceptionalism. Consequently, Kaepernick and some who support him receive death threats and encouragement to leave the perfection that is the US. Others insist he should be dropped from the NFL for speaking his mind.

Outside that wing-nut echo chamber, reasonable people have different and differing views on his protest. Some believe that he chose the wrong place and time, but that the problems he addressed are quite real and cry out for solutions. Others wholly support his actions as a small step against institutional racism.

My opinion is that holding one's tongue and not making waves is to tacitly accept inequality. Those in favour of waiting for another place and time are really saying, 'Let's just get on with the game without any drama, let's get on with life as it is. This will all work out.' That, of course, is the essence of white privileged: it's okay, things will change bye and bye. That viewpoint arises from a state of safety and superiority, not from one of disadvantage and persecution.

Yes, Colin Kaepernick leads a privileged life with a mansion, money and fame. One could easily say he is far from persecuted or disadvantaged. He also, however, could be pulled over by cops and find a gun in his face only for his skin colour. That is but one part of the inequality he railed against using the most precious of rights: free speech.

For those of us who want to tear down the walls of inequality, let's add our voices to his and speed change rather than becoming incensed over a manufactured slight to the country by those who make their money creating these wedge issues.

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