To paraphrase an old cowboy saying, “Never debate a bull from the front, a horse from the back, or a racist from any direction.” Doing the first two are dangerous to your physical health resulting in broken bones and doing the third is dangerous to your intellectual health resulting in frittered brain power. In other words, don’t waste your time using facts to try to enlighten insane people. And racists are certifiably insane because they suffer from denial of reality, inability to distinguish right from wrong, and delusions of grandeur. That’s the textbook definition of insanity.
I say all that to ask Black folks to stop arguing with racists on social media, on radio and TV, in newspapers, or in person about Colin Kaepernick’s ongoing Star-Spangled Banner protest because those arguments are a complete waste of time. Instead, use your time productively by promoting Black educational, economic, and political independence.
Instead of debating racists, enlighten your children and each other about why the San Francisco 49er star quarterback’s decision, as publicly expressed on August 26 immediately before the home preseason game at Levi Stadium against the Green Bay Packers, to sit during the playing of the national anthem is the right decision. But first point out exactly what he said about that decision: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people…. There’s a lot of things that needs to change. One specifically is police brutality. There… (are) people being murdered… and not being held accountable. Cops are getting paid leave for killing people.” He’s right, you know.
Remember that 102 unarmed Blacks were killed by cops just last year alone. In fact, more innocent Blacks were killed by police each week in 2015 than were lynched by mobs each week from 1882-1890. But in response to his truth, racists have gone crazy- I mean crazier. Literally hundreds of thousands of them have used social media to write some of the most vile things imaginable about maiming and killing him. However, not one of them raised a cogent factually or historically-based argument. Accordingly, here are the top five reasons why he’s right and they’re wrong.
1. The Star-Spangled Banner is a racist song written by a slave-owner. In the third stanza of the song that was initially written as a poem in 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote:
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave. And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave
This stanza glorified the murder of Blacks who escaped U.S. slavery and gained freedom by enlisting as paid soldiers in Britain’s Corps of Colonial Marines during combat with America in the War of 1812 and The Battle of Fort McHenry in 1814. Key, a wealthy slave-owner and the District Attorney of D.C., advocated the wholesale extermination of those Black soldiers contrary to accepted rules of international warfare. Also, he said Black men, women, and children are an “inferior race of people.”
2. One of America’s most notoriously racist presidents made the Star-Spangled Banner famous. In 1916, which was 102 years after it was written, Woodrow Wilson- who officially segregated the federal government along racial lines shortly after being elected in 1913- signed an executive order making it the national anthem. Congress followed in 1931 by passing an act confirming Wilson’s order
3. Half of white America believes racism no longer exists. As reported in a 2015-2016 poll by the prominent Pew Research Center, 50 percent of whites believe Blacks are treated as equally as whites by police, prosecutors, judges, and employers. And 60 percent of white Republicans believe it. Can you believe that BS?
4. Nearly all of the NFL owners have “blacklisted” Kaepernick for legally exercising his First Amendment right of free speech. As reported this week by larrybrownsports.com, the preeminent digital sports website, a top NFL insider said “90-95 percent” of the front offices have “blacklisted” Kaepernick. And another said he can’t remember this much “collective dislike for a player since (former Carolina Panther wide receiver) Rae Carruth.” What? They’re actually comparing Kaepernick to a double-murderer who’s in prison for the 1999 shooting death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend! The only thing Kaepernick murdered was the myth of racial equality in America.
5. America is a country filled with hypocritical racists. And they’re forming a posse today to figuratively and literally lynch Kaepernick. But in 1982, this country issued a postage stamp in honor of the man who, in his autobiography entitled “I Never Had It Made,” wrote in regard to the 1947 World Series, “The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind…. As I write this 20 years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a Black man in a white world….” That Black man was Jackie Robinson.
In most cases, I would advise Black folks that we must stand for something or we’ll fall for anything. However, in this particular case, just like in the case of Rosa Parks, I’m advising us to “sit” for something or we’ll fall for anything. I’m also advising us not to debate with crazy people. Instead, let’s enlighten and support our own people. P.S. I love you and your courage, Brother Kaepernick.
Michael Coard, Esquire can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. His “Radio Courtroom” show can be heard on WURD900AM. And his “TV Courtroom” show can be seen on PhillyCam/Verizon/Comcast.