Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Taking A Knee, Rising Above Hate

"Girl, sit down, shut up, and sing these songs for our entertainment”

“Boy, sit down (stand up), shut up, and take these concussions for our entertainment”

This seems to be the underlying connotation behind a plethora of angry and hate filled rants against artists and entertainers of color who have used their platform to peacefully protest and/or bring awareness to the current (and unbroken) tide of racial and social injustice. Beyonc√©, a nationally recognized and acclaimed music artist and Black woman, addressed police brutality in her video “Formation” and during her Superbowl 2016 Halftime Performance. With raised fists, black leather, afro puffs, and more #BlackGirlMagic than one can handle, Beyonc√© and her performers conveyed a powerful message on the football field. For me, the powerful fists in the air were reminiscent of the 1968 Olympics Black Power/Human Rights salute led by Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the medal ceremony.

Most recently, Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem in protest of social injustices, police brutality, and transgressions against minorities and People of Color in the United States. While Kaepernick has received support (a large number being Veterans), he has received backlash and a barrage of hate in the form of being called the ‘N’ word and having many wish him injury, team termination, and even death. There is nothing patriotic in tearing down your fellow man with racist slurs and threats for peacefully protesting injustices, while simultaneously denying him or her rights the very Constitution one claims to adhere to and respect gives them. There are certain voices in this country that endure attempts to be silenced when they go against the status quo; a status quo created and perpetuated by a prejudice, patriarchal system. The angry focus (used as a distractive technique) is placed on the protest. However, it’s not the method that is the problem. The problem for many is the message, in and of itself, of racial and social injustice that motivated the call for action altogether.

It is interesting that both demonstrations this year took place in the realm of football. The NFL is considered "America's Sport", but it took 50 years from its inception for the first Black quarterback to be named a starter for an entire season, and in 2003 it had to establish the Rooney Rule to ensure minority coaches were considered for high-level coaching positions. I say the NFL is as good a platform as any to peacefully protest and raise awareness.

A protest against injustice can be one, single voice or it can be thousands lifting their voices; but in all things, the call for justice will never be drowned out by hate.