It has nothing to do with the military. It has nothing to do with veterans. It has nothing to do with the flag. It has EVERYTHING to do with the unjust and unlawful treatment of black Americans in this country. So I ask those who voiced their outrage:
Were you as outraged when Officer Betty Shelby shot and killed an unarmed Terrence Crutcher as he walked away with his hands up? And was later acquitted on all charges? If your answer is no, ask yourself why?
Were you as outraged when Officer Jeronimo Yanez fired seven shots from point blank range into a car carrying an infant, killing Philando Castille? AND was later acquitted on all charges, once again, normalizing the assassination of a black man in America. If your answer is no, ask yourself why?
Were you as outraged when Officer Roy Oliver pulled his semi-automatic AR-15 and fired three rounds into a car full of unarmed teenagers, killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards with a single shot to the head? If your answer is no, I urge you to ask yourself why?
If your answer to any of these is not a firm and unabashed yes, then you have to start asking yourself the difficult questions. You have to start questioning what you deem as patriotic, and whether your ‘patriotism’ is actually cloaking racist sentiments.
From the first moment Colin Kaepernick bent his knee, critics have talked about every reason why his protest was disrespectful to the country, but I have yet to see any of those same critics address the REASON he exercised his right to protest. Because the truth is that their issue is not about the cause ― the majority of Americans who can’t stomach the sight of a black man asking questions of their great country could not care less about the way African-Americans are treated by the U.S. criminal justice system. All they see is a black man raising his voice, pushing back against a white narrative and shining light on injustice. And this clouds their vision, resulting in a desperate attempt to deflect attention away from the substance behind the protest, so they do not have to ask themselves the difficult question, why?
To Colin Kaepernick and the countless others who followed, it has always been about the “why.” The “why” is the reason he continues to work on strengthening oppressed communities and educating the youth on their constitutional rights when interacting with law enforcement. The “why” is the reason he has donated almost a million dollars to specific charities and nonprofits to help those who do not have a voice. And the “why” is exactly why our commander in chief decided to make it about himself. Because Donald Trump does not want to focus on the issue of police brutality, he wants to make the protest about him and his personal grievances. He wants to deflect attention from injustice, to take the power away from Colin Kaepernick. So be pissed at what Trump said, of course, but do not lose sight of the reason why we must continue this fight. This is bigger than Donald Trump.
Donald Trump is doing everything in his power to distract us from the reality of life for black people in 21st century America. Don’t let him. Support those who kneel. Keep demanding change. Keep asking “Why?”