Black Athletes and the National Anthem: Or…Making White Folk Uncomfortable

I’ve managed to avoid really getting into political posts recently, with the occasional exception of humorous remarks about Trump and a few other issues. I realize how passionate some people are about Trump and probably moreso worked up in their disdain for Hillary Clinton. And that’s fine. But I’ve actually had people I considered good friends at one point or other de-friend me on Facebook, evidently because they didn’t like what I was saying or how I was saying it. It sucked and it made me pull back on making political posts because, frankly, it’s just not worth it to lose friends simply because have different political views.

And I’ve posted at length on this particular topic before—black athletes kneeling during the National Anthem…but hearing what this athlete, Michael Rose-Ivey, at the University of Nebraska, has gone through since he and two of his teammates kneeled in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick during the National Anthem of a recent football game really made me angry. The N-word??? He should be lynched before the National Anthem at the next game???? (Here is the link: http://www.rawstory.com/2016/09/fans-wanted-me-hung-before-the-anthem-emotional-nebraska-football-player-reveals-racist-threats/comments/#disqus)

Seriously: WHAT IS IT about a person who doesn’t adhere to this proscribed etiquette about our nation’s anthem that enrages people to make death threats and resort to name calling, and namely, using the N-word??? I want to know. Watch the video linked here, or just read the quotes in the article, at least. This isn’t a person who “hates” America. This isn’t a person who should just “keep his mouth shut”. This isn’t a person who should be “grateful” he’s got a scholarship and be content to quietly keep all of you white folk entertained with his athletic prowess. This is a person, and this is a people, who I believe are sincere in their angst over injustices Black America has endured throughout this country’s history.

And please, just shut the fuck up about Chicago in your inevitable response. “But, but, but, but what about Chicago and black on black crime!!!! Why don’t they kneel against that??? Chicago, I tell you!!! CHICAGO!!!! CHICAGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’M AN ANGRY WHITE MAN TELLING BLACK PEOPLE HOW TO PRIORITIZE!!!! CHICAGOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Okay, deep breath, Brian…

It’s been my observation that the VAST MAJORITY of people expressing “outrage” over black athletes kneeling during the National Anthem are WHITE. And I say VAST MAJORITY because I’m sure some fuck is out there right now ready to link to some black conservative who agrees with them. Don’t bother. That’s the exception, not the rule. There’s just no denying the indignant response of certain white people when they see black people not adhering to what they see as “acceptable” behavior toward our Nation’s symbols. I mean, I get it: we as white people want to believe we’ve righted the wrongs of our ancestors when Lincoln freed the slaves, or when the Civil Rights Act was legislated, or when Barack Obama was elected President. Discovering that there’s still work to be done when it comes to race relations and being reminded that ours is not nearly the perfect union we imagine it to be can be unsettling. But try empathizing or seeing America through their eyes. These black athletes who are kneeling aren’t committing crimes, their not cheating in school, they—to me, at least—seem very thoughtful and sincere. And while I’ll never pretend to “feel their pain” or understand what it’s like to be Black in America, I accept their sincerity and their frustration. If kneeling during the National Anthem is a means by which they choose to facilitate an important discussion in this country, I PRAISE THEM. If I had half a nerve, I would kneel in solidarity with them the next time I was in public during the National Anthem.

And wouldn’t that be a grand experience. Even worse than a black person kneeling during the National Anthem, but a traitor to my own race, eh?

I’ll be honest, I’ve not been comfortable with what I see as “patriot shaming”, i.e., calling someone out because they are not “properly” honoring the symbols of this Nation. “Are you standing straight enough??? TRAITOR!!!” “Is your hand on your heart? TRAITOR!!!!” “Are you facing in the right direction? TRAITOR!!!!”  Patriotism should come from within, not be imposed from without. Try asking 1930s Germany how that turned out.

Alright. I think I’m done. If this offends you, it offends you. I’d prefer you not unfriend me, but if you can’t handle my passion on this issue, so be it. I’m just asking you to consider that black athletes have a legitimate motive for their actions in kneeling during the National Anthem. It does NOT warrant death threats or the N-word. They shouldn’t just “shut up” and be “grateful”; they shouldn’t have to refrain from making YOU feel uncomfortable about your country.

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“Real” Books vs e-Books

I was initially surprised by this, but it actually makes sense and it’s encouraging to see at least one industry not becoming engulfed by the digital age. Book readers prefer to hold and flip through a real book instead of swiping pages on their tablet.

http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20160921/mark-patinkin-kindles-may-come-and-go-but-books-are-forever

Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: Oct 14th to Dec 30th, 1943

It’s been a while since I posted from my grandfather’s WW2 memoirs; I’ve found the blog gets more hits when I actually transcribe the pages instead of simply posting scans of the actual pages, and transcribing takes a while, even as fast a typer as I am. So today I am just going to go ahead and post a scan of the next page so we can get back on track with the saga. This page covers October 14th, 1943 through December 30th of that year.

This page basically continues the day to day routine of life in an internment camp under the Japanese during the war. A lot of it is very mundane but informative in conveying a vivid picture of the conditions at the converted camp that was the University of Santo Tomas. Through this point, the Japanese left the internees to their own devices with relatively minimal supervision, leaving it to the internees to develop their own governing body and hierarchy. As long as they didn’t cause trouble, the Japanese left them alone (this was to change in due course as the Japanese began to reel from successive defeats to the Allies as the war progressed).

Amusing to note is the laugh my grandfather and his pals get out of watching the internee guards argue with the women internees over access to the hot water (Oct 14th entry); “wow, the rows they have with the women about it; we don’t butt in and we just sit in our chairs and enjoy the fun”. Though trying, life under the Japanese occupation wasn’t yet so dire as it was soon to become.

Also mentioned are a massive typhoon that swept through Manila that November and visits from family, plus the elation throughout the camp upon receiving relief boxes from the Red Cross (he details the contents at the end of the page) the following month. Something of a halcyon period before the storm…

carl-ephriam-rice-ww2-memoirs-pg-11

Colin Kaepernick: The BPR Take

Sigh. I wasn’t going get involved in the Colin Kaepernick debate; I haven’t posted much politics online for a while, and life is always exponentially better when I avoid it, so why ruin a good thing? But people are raging on and on about this and talking frankly racist shit and spreading frankly racist lies on social media and…well, I’ll just say that some of what I’m seeing explains perfectly Donald Trump’s viability as a presidential candidate. I’ll also say that everyone has a right to their opinion and I’m not going to waste time trying to change what anybody thinks. I just have to vent that I continue to be disgusted by some of the things I’m seeing, not just over Kaepernick specifically but in our politics at large.

But no, I’m not disgusted by Kaepernick himself. He has a right to his own views, and reading his direct and specific comments on the issue, I have to say I TOTALLY and COMPLETELY understand and RESPECT his position. He’s made it clear he’s not anti-American or anti-US military. He’s highly intelligent with a 4.0 GPA in college and scored impressively on the NFL’s Wonderlic test that measures intelligence. And he’s willing to engage his critics as shown by his invitation to former Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer to discuss the issue after Boyer penned an open letter to him, and the conversation left Boyer impressed. And he was willing to change his protest in last night’s game from sitting down to kneeling as a show of respect for the military. In short, Kaepernick came to this decision after long and serious thought, not out of some narcissistic need for attention (ahem, Trump, cough cough).

And of course, the alt-right is out in full force, darkly accusing Kaepernick of converting to Islam for his Muslim Black Lives Matter girlfriend, blah blah blah…apparently, his is dating a Muslim woman, and it’s only natural for people to be influenced by their significant others, so if she’s caused him to think about issues he’s never considered before, fine. But to this point he hasn’t announced whether he’s converted or not, and unsubstantiated claims that he has are just more xenophobic bullshit meant to create and widen the gulf between the “Us” and the “Them”. But given the history of black athletes converting to Islam, they’ve nearly always made it public, so if he has why would he keep it a secret? It’s not like being a Muslim is illegal in this country. Yet.

And I don’t think he’s a hypocrite because he was raised by adoptive white parents. He said in his initial interview on the topic that he wasn’t protesting anything that’s happened to himself specifically, but at society at large. But that’s a bit too nuanced a point for people these days to comprehend, apparently. Good or Bad. Black or White. Us or Them. There’s no room for being in the middle, in between, or a shade of grey. Too much thought and empathy required for that.

There’s no one “proper” way to be an American. It takes all kinds. Colin Kaepernick’s view on the National Anthem/American flag may not be yours…but that doesn’t make him any less of an American. (By the way, if you’re going to be pissed off at Kaepernick, then you should be pissed off at baseball legend Jackie Robinson for expressing the same exact sentiment.) He’s just as much a “real” American as Nate Boyer. Or any of us. There’s a certain segment of the population that considers themselves “real” Americans (I’ll let you guess what color they are) to the exclusion of everyone else…guess what: we all are. Try taking the time to actually LISTEN to what he’s saying instead of getting all Facebook-Outraged because he’s not behaving in what you consider to be the “proper” manner expected out of an athlete, actor, or musician: Just play your sport/say your lines/sing your songs and shut up. Just entertain me. Don’t make me think about complicated issues.

Recommended links if you’re interested:

http://theundefeated.com/features/colin-kaepernick-mix-of-racism-anti-islam-rhetoric-are-increasingly-toxic/

http://theundefeated.com/features/an-open-letter-from-american-military-veterans-in-support-of-colin-kaepernick/

http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/09/nate-boyer-colin-kaepernick

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/08/31/492086321/my-father-stood-for-the-anthem-for-the-same-reason-that-colin-kaepernick-sits?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social