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:

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.


2 thoughts on “Black Athletes and the National Anthem: Or…Making White Folk Uncomfortable

  1. I have no desire to unfriend you, or call you nasty names, or even think badly about what you’ve said. I agree on some & disagree on some.
    I believe anyone calling these athletes, or anyone for that matter, the, I truly can’t even say it using only the initial, because I detest that word so much, is wrong! They’re actually ignorant & many other words I don’t mind using, but I’m not here to ramble. When I see or hear hateful things like that, I have no interest in anything else that person has to say, because I realize at that moment it’s irrelevant to me. Same with any kind of death threat. So I agree with you there.
    As for the kneeling, sitting & fist raising during the national anthem, I am totally on the other side. I don’t see it as a racial issue at all. I see it as total disrespect for all of the men & women of all races who have fought for & are still fighting for our freedom. Many who have given their lives & all who are willing to put their lives on the line. They are not out risking their lives for one race or another, they’re doing it for The United States of America, which is ALL of us! I would not be more offended to see you kneel than to see anyone of any race who is an American Citizen kneel. It would upset me just the same. I understand that is one of our rights as Americans, but I have no more interest in hearing what someone doing that has to say than I do the people using that word that I refuse to say, or any other racial slurs for that matter.
    I have the deepest respect for the men & women in our military & because of that, anything they are trying to say by kneeling, sitting or holding their fists up, becomes just as irrelevant.


    1. I was going to touch on your remarks about honoring the military in my original post, but in trying to cover every possible angle, I just overlooked it. You take a genuine and sincere view of what it means to honor the National Anthem, but clearly a significant portion of our population who happens to be black doesn’t see it the same way as you do. How else can you look at it as anything other than racial when, if you were to poll all Americans on the issue, you would no doubt see that most people on your side are white, and most people who take the athletes’ view are black. I don’t have any scientific numbers to prove that definitively, and I admittedly say that based solely by what I’ve seen on social media. But I’d fully expect that to turn out to be the case if there was some kind of scientific poll. Of course you’ll find exceptions on both sides (me being a case in point). But refusing to even consider what they have to say simply because they don’t adhere to the proper forms in regards to our Nation’s symbols isn’t going to help bridge the gap between the races that exists in society.


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