NFL . . .Taking a Knee in Two Different Americas
I am a white man, raised and educated in the City of Detroit. I am a former prosecutor in Wayne County. My 10th grade educated father was a “bookie.” My 9th grade educated brother was locked up at Jackson Prison in the 1960s for fighting cops… where he then fought Detroiter, Alvin “Blue” Lewis, for the heavyweight Championship of the “Joint.” My 8th grade educated mother was a tough “take no prisoners” Irish woman. Our financial circumstances ranged from adequate to needy, depending on the day of the week. But, I was a “fair haired” white child of white America who was lucky enough to get a football scholarship and inherit all of the opportunities that an education brings. Women and black men of my era didn’t receive the opportunities I did. I received the serendipitous luck of the draw by being born a white man in white America.
I was the lucky white kid who had a leg up in the “land of opportunity” as I set out to pursue the American dream. Work hard? Of course, I did. But, hard work without opportunity does not open the door where the ladder of economic advancement is hidden from many. Ask black lawyer/opera singer, Paul Robeson, who was shut out of the legal profession because he was black. Ask Negro League Hall of Famer, Satchel Paige, who, for almost his entire pitching career, was shut out of the white man’s Major Leagues. Ask Satchel’s contemporary, Hall of Fame catcher Josh Gibson, shut out of the Major Leagues because he was black. Ask hundreds of thousands of other blacks. Ask all the women of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 1980s. If I wasn’t fortuitously and serendipitously born a white male in America, I would not have gotten very far up the economic ladder in my lifetime. As my “bookie” father would say about a sure bet, “Take that to the bank.” As Donald Trump and his advisor, Steve Bannon, would say, “That’s the America we have to make great again.”
When a black man looks at the American flag or hears the national anthem, do you think he has the same perception of America that a favorite son, white man like me does or that Donald Trump and his followers do? Or, do you think a black man’s perception of America is colored by the institution of legalized “slavery” in the days of old and colored by the institution of legalized “segregation” and colored by the fallacy of “separate but equal” with black soldiers being told they are not good enough to be quartered with white soldiers (Tuskegee Airmen and all other blacks) and colored by black soldiers returning home for World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict and Vietnam and being thanked for their service by being told to get in the back of the bus with Rosa Parks and being told to stay out of the white man’s hotels, diners, theaters, schools and baseball leagues and thereafter colored by legalized “discrimination” and being told what neighborhoods they can or can’t live in and colored by being disenfranchised by having to pass literacy tests or pay a poll tax as a condition of voting or, recently, being suffocated by the cops on the sidewalks of New York while crying out in agony, “I can’t breathe” eleven times before the execution of black man, Eric Garner, (for the misdemeanor of illegally selling cigarettes) was completed by cops who acted as charging authority, Judge, Jury, executioner and God?
Obviously, a black man looking at the American flag has a different perception of America than a white man. And the black man’s perception is captured by United States Supreme Court’s first black Justice, Thurgood Marshall’s, insightful words (about the disconnect between America’s political promises and America’s actions), “Ah America, the greatest country that never was, but, hopefully, always will be.” Yet, many white men in the throes of their angst and their continuing effort to hold the black man down rail against the black man who dares take a knee during the National Anthem to protest the black man’s own particular perception of America. Does not the white man see his hypocrisy? Does not the head of the Michigan State Police, Kriste Etue, see her hypocrisy when she claims the protesters are degenerates who hate America? Why do so many white men and some women insist that the protesting black man should have the same “perception” of America that the white man has? Why does the “colonizing” white man try to force the black man to have the same mind set about America that the white man has? Why does the white man insist on “co-opting” the black man’s perception of and his vision for America? Why is the white man so out of tune with his black brother that he insists on a self righteous attack on black men who are merely engaged in peaceful, non-violent protest for “redress of grievances” under the First Amendment, as the black man holds up a mirror to white America, telling white America, “You can do better”?
Question? Do my comments make me a bleeding heart liberal? or a “progressive”?… or, perhaps, just another misguided American soul, out of touch with the “lives and times” of Donald Trump and present day America?