We’ve been told that the ritual of football players kneeling when the national anthem is played signifies their protest of police brutality towards black life. But the American flag has much broader significance than that, specifically its presence draping the coffins of fallen soldiers and veterans. Today’s military numbers more than 1.3 million Americans, 17% of whom are black men and women who have volunteered to serve. What message is being sent to those Americans as well as all other ethnicities who voluntarily put their lives on the line in the ultimate act of patriotism for this country.
By supporting the actions of those players who choose to exercise a freedom that would have them thrown into jail in many other parts of the globe, we become complicit in dissing the families of fallen heroes in other uniforms as well. So soon after the anniversary of 9/11, have we forgotten the sacrifice of first responders - the numbers of policemen and firemen who gave their lives then or subsequently due to prolonged exposure to smoke and chemicals and were similarly buried beneath our flag as the symbol of their sacrifice to the people of this nation. Many of those heroes were black as well.
America has been a land of unequaled opportunity and rewards for its football players. Its failures need to be addressed but if you refuse to honor the flag that stands for so many of its important freedoms, perhaps you should also refuse to partake of its bounty. Rather than take the knee-jerk route of one empty gesture of a few minutes duration, why don’t football players set up a charity to help black youth avoid the pitfalls of gangs, drugs and failure to get an education. If each kneeling player became a Big Brother to a child at risk, think of the publicity value and how many other athletes might be spurred on to join that mission. Black Self-Help, specifically aimed at pro-active projects would certainly surpass the “protests” of Black Lives Matter that often turn into scene of looting, violence and random destruction. Here’s an opportunity for Colin Kaepernick, a bi-racial man who was given up for adoption to a white family, who worships god and kisses the tattoos of His sayings, to do some of God’s work, to get off his knee, stand tall and help to lift his less fortunate brothers and sisters to a better future in a better America.
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