There’s a movement happening and it should be a moment of collective pride
If you are black in North America today and privileged enough to succeed like millions and millions of black people do every day, your success still doesn’t insulate you from racism or bigotry. Obama’s eight years in office and the vitriol he has had to face has proven that. The bullying and torment of Leslie Jones, the double standard of forgiveness shown to Ryan Lochte vs. the outright disdain leveled at Gabby Douglas, and now the backlash faced by Colin Kaepernick, just exemplify this fact even further. Nothing has really changed.
Each morning I open my news feed and there’s a story about some sort of injustice, another innocent black man or women shot, a black child expelled from school because her hair is cornrowed, a black mother put in prison for five years because she sent her kid to school in the wrong school district.
For so long, black people have dealt with issues of injustice in silence, for the first time in a long time, people in extremely powerful positions are using their influence to share with the world how they feel; to make it known that these are issues that need to be addressed and that they affect everyone. People like Colin Kaepernick should not be protesting alone, every black athlete should be right there with them.
There’s a movement happening and it should be a moment of collective pride. When we see people willing to risk their careers for something they believe in, we should all look up and take notice. We should try to understand why someone would feel compelled to put their future on the line.
Yes, there are more doors open for black people. There are more avenues available to facilitate our success. But, for many that success is predicated on the fact that in order to remain successful you have to give up a part of your ‘blackness.’ You shouldn’t talk too loudly, you shouldn’t look too black, you shouldn’t be too different and most of all you shouldn’t ever mention race.
People love black athletes, black actors, black musicians as long as they don’t mention the R word. If they dare use their position as a platform to help raise up their brothers and sisters, they are targeted. If they speak up against social injustice they are ‘ungrateful’ and too privileged or not black enough to feel the full weight of their race. If they call on black people to support black owned businesses they are fostering divisiveness. If they take a stand against oppression, they are anti-American.
I’m grateful for people like Jesse Williams, Carmelo Anthony, Serena Williams, Colin Kaepernick and many more, who are able to stand up without fear and use their influence to affect change. They give me hope.
And as a mother, hope is what I want for my children. Hope, that one day if called upon, they will have the fortitude and strength of character to stand firm in their beliefs and to advocate on behalf of those who are not being heard or who cannot advocate on behalf of themselves.
We all owe Colin Kaepernick and others like him a debt of gratitude for leading by example and showing our kids how to stand firm in the face of adversity and persecution.