Being an Ivy League graduate millennial that grew up poor, you can imagine the span of reactions in my Facebook feed as racial conversations have flooded the airways this summer. From the defeated and hopeless Black people filled with confusion and, literally, dying for understanding, to the privileged and aloof White people with an unwavering allegiance to the flag regardless of the accuracy in execution of what it represents, I’ve seen it all.
I would challenge people in opposition of the national anthem protests to simply re-evaluate their stance today, after the senseless killing of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, OK - with an open mind. Here you have a father of four returning home from classes at a local college who, with his hands raised and no weapons, seeks assistance from police for his broken down car. Who better to help in this situation than the police, right? However at some point officers felt that their lives were threatened enough just by his presence to taze and then fatally shoot him.
At this point in the conversation, people who still oppose Colin Kaepernick are just more willing to put energy into reaffirming what they already believe (which is a Utopian representation of America that doesn’t really exist) than being open-minded enough to understand what it would take to actually move closer to achieving that Utopian state. Big picture, I get it - ignorance is bliss and acknowledging an injustice would challenge that blissfulness. Unfortunately, coupled with that is the idea that said blissful state is the norm. That’s where the disconnect occurs.
The idea of achieving a blissful state for minorities in this country is simply unfathomable. However, the inability to relate to this blissful state is what causes confusion for white people because they see it as normal.
Let’s say we’re all on the water - It’s like the white people are partying in yachts while the minorities pile into canoes and propeller boats and the yacht says to the canoe, “You’re on the water, let’s race.” The playing field simply isn’t level. The canoe is trying to yell back but can’t be heard over the roar of the yacht’s engine. Meanwhile the yacht claims that no one is yelling and everyone is happy simply because they won’t shut off their engine long enough to hear the screams. But the most concerning part is that, when rumors of people screaming finally do reach the yacht, they choose to keep the engines running. At least stop the engines and listen, right?
That’s why the movement is #BlackLivesMatter. That’s why the counter-argument that #AllLivesMatter is seen as a silencing rev of the engine to those in canoes. That’s why your silence and the acceptance of your ignorantly blissful state, despite the fact that people are risking their reputations on its behalf and screaming injustice, is really just as unpatriotic as you claim kneeling for the national anthem to be.