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    Danny Cardwell's picture

    What Colin Kaepernick Learned From James Blake and Jesse Williams

    I was standing there doing nothing — not running, not resisting, in fact smiling… the officer picked me up and body slammed me and put me on the ground and told me to turn over and shut my mouth, and put the cuffs on me.”

    James Blake

     

    When Muhammad Ali died social media was full of sincere thoughts and prayers for his family. Yes, the usual internet trolls called him a coward for his stance on the Vietnam war, but for the most part America pretended like he was a beloved figure. Fast forward a few months and many of those same people are now calling for boycotts and violence against Colin Kaepernick. This duality is a symptom of America’s complex relationship with race, history, and social activism. I know people who hate Kanye West and Cam Newton for the same reasons they love Donald Trump. Being an outspoken Black man is one of the fastest ways to lose friends and influence in America. That’s why I admire what Colin Kaepernick is doing. He saw how Jesse Williams was treated after his passionate speech at the BET awards earlier this summer and wasn’t dissuaded from using his platform to highlight the plight of Black men who aren’t as financially secure as him. Maybe Colin learned the lesson from James Blake’s very public wrongful arrest at the hands of the NYPD almost a year ago: no amount of money or social standing can protect your black body from a society that views Black men as less worthy of life than Harambe the gorilla.

     

    “There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There is no tax they haven’t leveed against us – and we’ve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. “You’re free,” they keep telling us. But she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so… free.”

    Jesse Williams

     

    America has two preferences for Black activism. Activists who don’t disrupt the natural order of things and couch all of their critiques of White supremacy in the context of America being a great nation because we’ve come this far. These activists routinely get invited to sit on panels to explain (or soften) the positions people like Colin Kaepernick and Jesse Williams have taken. It’s too easy to call them Uncle Toms or to say they are cooning. I know some bourgeoisie black folks who sincerely want to make America a more united place, but they put all of the onus on Black people to accept a second class status instead of calling into question an American ideology that continues to place us there. The right-wing doesn’t have a monopoly on these voices; many left leaning and progressive groups are also fond of the kind of non-radical “blacksplanning” they offer. This form of activism can be very profitable. If you are a reliable Black ally doors can open for you. The other preference for a Black activist is dead. If you are dead, we will posthumously resurrect your legacy and make your courage an admirable quality. It doesn’t take a very smart person to see this hypocrisy. Either conduct your protest in a way that is acceptable or become an enemy.

     

    If Colin Kaepernick’s goal was to further expose the hypocrisy of those who criticize movements for equality he couldn’t have done a better job. Many of the same people who have spent the last two years chastising Black Lives Matter for not being more like Dr. King are now condemning Colin Kaepernick for being more like Dr. King. When Blacks were sitting down at lunch counters we were called trouble makers, when we were boycotting businesses that discriminated against us we were called economic terrorists, when we throw bricks through windows were told we should express our anger in a more constructive way, when we write or talk about our plight we are called race hustlers, and when Colin doesn’t pledge his allegiance to a nation that hasn’t pledged its allegiance to him he’s called a nigger and burned in effigy. Any patriotism that calls for blind allegiance isn’t patriotism. If you are more bent out of shape about the way someone salutes (or doesn't) salute a flag than the systemic inequalities in our society, then you are part of the problem. This story, and our collective response to it, is symptomatic of the rampant nationalism and xenophobia pedaled by hate mongers on the right.

     

    I would advise bourgeois Blacks to pay attention to how quickly America can turn on you. A few years ago people in Cleveland were burning LeBron James jerseys, Kevin Durant suffered that same fate a few weeks back when he decided to leave Oklahoma City, and now Colin Kaepernick is America’s newest villain. America’s love for you is conditional. If your desire is to be loved, you better be acceptable and keep your mouth shut about issues related to the Black community. America has very little patience for anyone who criticizes her.

     

     

    Comments

    Another phenomenal post. It is easier to label Black Lives Matter a terrorist group than it is to deal with the DOJ finding police abuse a routine practice in both Ferguson and Baltimore. We saw "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" documented on television when a black mental health worked had his hands raised and back on the ground. He still got shot.

    A 32- year old white swimmer is called a kid after lying about a robbery in Brazil. NBC is upset about Al Roker's calling the punk a liar. Roker was unaware that NBC had the swimmer slated to appear on "Dancing With the Stars". Gabby Douglas was called unpatriotic for standing silently during the "Star-Spangled Banner". Different strokes, different folks.


    Well said. 

    It comes down to respect, doesn't it?  Those with power demanding it, whether or not they deserve it, and punishing those who refuse to be forced into making a show of respect they don't feel.

    I follow Jim Wright, author of the Stonekettle Station blog, who had this to say on Kaepernick's protest, first on Facebook, then republished on American NewsX:

    "A Real Veteran Knows That Respect Cannot Be Compelled, Bought Or Inherited"

    http://americannewsx.com/hot-off-the-press/vets-respect-compelled-bought...

    Excerpts, though you really ought to read the whole thing:

    Respect cannot be demanded at the muzzle of a gun or by beating it into somebody or by shaming them into it. Can not. You might get what you think is respect, but it’s not. It’s only the appearance of respect. It’s fear, it’s groveling, it’s not respect. Far, far too many people both in and out of the military, people who should emphatically know better, do not understand this simple fact: there is an enormous difference between fear and respect.

    Respect has to be earned.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    With threats, by violence, by shame, you can maybe compel Kaepernick to stand up and put his hand over his heart and force him to be quiet. You might.

    But that’s not respect.

    It’s only the illusion of respect.

    You might force this man into the illusion of respect. You might. Would you be satisfied then? Would that make you happy? Would that make you respect your nation, the one which forced a man into the illusion of respect, a nation of little clockwork patriots all pretending satisfaction and respect? Is that what you want? If THAT’s what matters to you, the illusion of respect, then you’re not talking about freedom or liberty. You’re not talking about the United States of America. Instead, you’re talking about every dictatorship from the Nazis to North Korea where people are lined up and MADE to salute with the muzzle of a gun pressed to the back of their necks.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    If Americans want this man to respect America, then first they must respect him.

    If America wants the world’s respect, it must be worthy of respect.

     

     

     


    every dictatorship from the Nazis to North Korea where people are lined up and MADE to salute ...

     

    Salute?  Hell, they better sit the fuck up...

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/30/asia/north-korea-executes-education-official/

     

     

     


    In his 1972 autobiography, Jackie Robinson wrote that he could not recite the Pladge of Allegiance or salute the flag because of injustice in the United States. We literally whitewash that memory from his history, We forget that he left the Republican Party in 1964 because of the racism and tolerance of white supremacists by the Republicans of his day led by Barry Goldwater.

    http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2016/08/jackie-robinson-colin-ka...


    As devil's advocate, at what juncture might the advantages, opportunities and justice of America override past injustices enough to allow a pledge or a salute? What would be the tipping point?

    I'm not much of a flag guy, but there will always be injustices, always be the establishment and the well-connected at top, corruption, cruelty, et al.

    I understood and applauded the action of the 3 athletes (2 black) at the 1968 olympics, back before the Curt Flood rule when athletes were traded like cattle or slaves and the Civil Rights battle was still in full swing.

    Would Lebron James making $75 million including endorsements be in the same position (not that sports opportunities and what's going on on the streets are the same thing)?

    I remember working next to a black guy in a civil service engineering job - he was quite bright and clued-in to speak to, but he spent most of his time being angry (especially about racial injustice) when not putting his head down on his desk sleeping or thinking. The bosses just left him alone, probably anticipating a lawsuit or other bad result. There were a lot of other blacks there who didn't find showing up to work such an existential/racial burden and seemed to be in much better mood.

    Jackie Robinson had it bad, but he had it good. Which one wins in the end? In Iran, there'd likely be 1 party to belong to and you couldn't leave. In 1972, most behind the Iron Curtain couldn't travel while the nearly1 billion Chinese were making about $30 a month. The Khmer were enduring the Killing Fields, while Ethiopia was enduring another of their list of famines. That doesn't wash away FBI surveillance, racist slurs at ballgames, or the other slights, but it is a gradient - he wasn't writing "Soul on Ice", nor was he stuck still playing in the Negro Leagues, plus he would always be that guy who got the lucky break, who broke the ceiling. Is there never room for joy?

    I have a book at home by Bette Bao Lord describing the importance for her as a Chinese immigrant stranded in Brooklyn when Mao came to power and meeting her hero Jackie Robinson. I don't need a flag to appreciate that, even as I cringe with all this "I thank you for your service" mawkish military stuff for anyone who's been in the military from vet to stateside paper pusher....

    As you yourself have noted, the "black lives = slum living" equation that Donald's pitching doesn't equate to the life that most black Americans have, be they sports stars or VMA winners, or the mass of normal folks who go about their home and worklives much like anyone else.


    Blacks are aware of history, but they judge their situation in the present. Pointing out that progress has been made does not mean that people should be satisfied with their current status. Whites are upset that middle class wages are stagnant. Blacks are upset that black unemployment is twice that of whites. No one questions why the white middle class is upset. When reviewing their personal status, Neither blacks or whites compare their status to Chinese, Ethiopians, etc. Whites and blacks analyze their perception of where they should be at the present time in the United States. Fast food workers want a wage they can live on without needing government assistance here in the United States today. Requiring them to first consider the plight of those in the past or in other countries is a diversion that does not address their immediate need to feed their families here in the United States today.

    Whites freely express their economic concerns. Why should blacks settle for simply not being in chains? Jackie Robinson had money but he kne there were hotels, restaurants, and businesses who would not serve him. He could identify with the plight of the average black person. Danny Cardwell points out the case of James Blake, a well-educated, wealthy black man, who was treated like a n*****r by police. When he was handcuffed, a white woman walked over to taunt James Blake. Blacks know how society really feels about them.

    The disruptions after the shooting of Michael Brown and the spinal cord injury of Freddie Gray occurred because black citizens connected those events to trauma suffered at the hands of police by a significant number of people in the community. The disruptions were really tangentially related to the specific police abuse. When the DOJ reviewed the police departments of Ferguson and Baltimore, they found the the police routine abused blacks and minority citizens,  Why worry about shooting a suspected criminal like Michael Brown? You protest Brown's shooting because you realize that if James Blake, respectable black man, had vigorously resisted the physical assault by a man who Blake did not know was a police officer, Blake could have been shot and killed by the undercover police officer. The shooting would have been justified by the legal system even though the police assaulted the wrong man. All blacks look alike to police.

    The SF QB knows that out of uniform, he is a big, tattooed threat to the white public.  The QB wants things to change because his life is at risk

    Regarding the sleepy, lazy black guy. Most blacks have stories about stupid, lazy white co-workers who manage to stay employed. I have seen a marginally functional alcoholic who was not let go. That guy happened to be white.


    I'm not "requiring" anything. I'm asking your opinion when or with what progress or milestone a Jackie Robinson or other black might feel warranted enough to salute the flag or whatever sign of warmth towards America despite its obvious historical atrocities. Michelle had her "first time proud of America" which came across a bit tonedeaf, but I can imagine Ferguson et al erasing the ecstasy of Obama's election. But when do you imagine a comfort point? Chinese and Iranian and Belorusian athletes seem to applaud their flag despite the arguably huger flaws in their system, including minorities. Women everywhere of course have a worse deal every day.

    And no, I dont think my colleague was lazy - he let anger wear him down


    Blacks are not a monolith. Most blacks salute the flag and recite the pledge, The SF QB stands out because he is an outlier.Blacks do realize that their lives are less valued.


    Thanks, as noted "I'm asking your opinion", not a universal monolithic answer. Most of us realize black lives are less valued of course


    Thank you. No problem.


    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who knows a thing or two about exercising free speech, appears to agree with your premise, Danny.  And rightfully so.

    What should horrify Americans is not Kaepernick’s choice to remain seated during the national anthem, but that nearly 50 years after Ali was banned from boxing for his stance and Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s raised fists caused public ostracization and numerous death threats, we still need to call attention to the same racial inequities. Failure to fix this problem is what’s really un-American here.


    Danny,
    .
    I absolutely love your writing, not only your insight and good common sense, but for your flare for the  poetic use of the English language.  I sincerely hope that you continue to use your gift to honestly, and forthrightly, address the Black condition, because we're in dire need of assistance at this point in our history. One severe problem that I've been noticing is we need to learn to follow truth wherever it leads, and to address that truth in an open-minded way on those occasions when it doesn't smile upon us. Knowledge is power, but the pursuit of true knowledge requires a tenacious sense of objectivity. I hope at some point you'll address that issue, as I intend to.
    .
     


    I wished to compare this post to Mr. Wattree's post but....

    America has two preferences for Black activism. Activists who don’t disrupt the natural order of things and couch all of their critiques of White supremacy in the context of America being a great nation because we’ve come this far. These activists routinely get invited to sit on panels to explain (or soften) the positions people like Colin Kaepernick and Jesse Williams have taken. It’s too easy to call them Uncle Toms or to say they are cooning. I know some bourgeoisie black folks who sincerely want to make America a more united place, but they put all of the onus on Black people to accept a second class status instead of calling into question an American ideology that continues to place us there. The right-wing doesn’t have a monopoly on these voices; many left leaning and progressive groups are also fond of the kind of non-radical “blacksplanning” they offer. This form of activism can be very profitable. If you are a reliable Black ally doors can open for you. The other preference for a Black activist is dead. If you are dead, we will posthumously resurrect your legacy and make your courage an admirable quality. It doesn’t take a very smart person to see this hypocrisy. Either conduct your protest in a way that is acceptable or become an enemy.

    This post is fascinating and wonderful.

    I hereby render unto Danny the Dayly Blog of the Day Award for this here Dagblog Site, given to all of him from all of me.

    This took my breath away.

    Racism appears everywhere on this planet.

    But damn! How might we attack this evil?

    This is wonderful Danny.

    Thank you.

    Here is another white guy attempting to address this issue:

     

     

     


    Colin Kaepernick will need to something more than sit on his rearend while a tune is player to make my list for efforts, risks taken and accomplishments made advancing racial equality.

    I admire former NBA stars Dave Bing and Kevin Johnson, one a former mayor of Detroit, the other the current mayor of Sacramento, California.

    I also think ot the late Australian sprinter, Peter Norman.

    At Norman's  2008 funeral in Australia, the black 1968 Olympians famous for their fist raising gestures on the medal stand, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, delivered eulogies and were Norman's pallbearers. Norman won the Silver Medal, Carlos the Bronze and Smith the Gold in the 200 meter race.

    Why did Norman mean so much to his black Olympic competitors?

    Norman wore a badge for the new group, the anti-racist Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) while he stood next to them.

    Although white, with that simple gesture, his career basically ended. Being forgotten, or hated, it has happened to whites too. Smith and Carlos did not forget Norman, or the price the three had shared and paid together for bringing the subject of racism, and the participation of racist countries like South Africa, in the Olympics.

    Peter Norman, who had been notified of their action and had offered his support, wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on his tracksuit. The photograph is an enduring image of the 20th century...Smith and Carlos were sent home......they talk about the threats and pressure that took their toll on them and their families. Norman, too, was criticised for his part. He was not selected for the Munich Games in 1972, even though he had run qualifying times for both the 100 and 200 metres.... Norman was also not part of the celebrations and ceremonies at the Sydney Olympics in 2000...

    Mexico City, 1968- Norman, Smith and Carlos


    Kaepernick's jersey is now the best selling jesey at the NFL website.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/colin-kaepernicks-jersey-is-now-the-...


    Kaepernick is donating all the money he receives from jersey sales to minority communities 

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/colin-kaepernick-donate-jersey-sales...


    Mr. Cardwell and NCD . . .

    I just now came across this post and thought you may find my story here of interest. I'm 70 now and wish for people to hear some history of what I was an eyewitness to. The following is from my Facebook notes

     

    A little personal background while serving in the US Navy . . .

     

     

     

    The Men of Moral Conviction...
     
    In the header, that's Dr. Harry Edwards and most people have seen the "infamous" photo of Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and on the left Australian silver medalist Peter George Norman. The picture of the event was taken by photographer John Dominis. Except in drips and drabs over the past four decades very few know the underlying background of what led up to this event. Bare with me as I put some history behind the story. It was, to say the least, quite turbulent times
     
    Dr. Harry Edwards - Read “Harry Edwards is an Angry Man” 1970
     
     
    Tommie Smith - Silent Gesture - Aug 13, 2008 - Autobiography
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Norman - From The white man in that photo - October 3, 2015
     

    Tommie Smith and John Carlos Carry the Remains of Peter Norman

     

     

     

     
     
    The struggle continues... Forever!
     
    It appears that Harry Edwards is continuing to mentor to this very day.
     

    October 29, 2016
     
    InstaGram Photo by: Matt Maiocco
    * * * *
    I was there, an eyewitness to these events and they are all Men of Moral Conviction.
     
    ~Larry~
     
     

    Thanks so very much for your inspirational tone. I have allowed some of the things I've experienced to jade me in a way I don't like. I'm doing much better now, but for a few weeks life was very uncomfortable. I appreciate you taking the time to read my often mad scribbling. Thanks and have a Merry Christmas! 


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