03 June 2020

Those who kneel are actually standing

Colin Kaepernick knelt. He didn’t kill anyone. He was protesting. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback sat down in the third preseason game of the 2016 season when the US national anthem was being played. He explained, ‘I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.’ He added, ‘there are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.’

What was it all about? For those who didn’t know or didn’t want to know, knowledge came in September that year. Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott were shot dead by the Police. Kaepernick stated, ‘this is a perfect example of what this is about.’ He would kneel during the anthem prior to every 49ers game that season.

If you are black in the USA you are twice as more likely to be killed by the police. And black people make just 13% of the US population. If anyone dares say that there’s no institutionalized and brutal racism in the USA, that person is not doing the math.

I remember a man named Amadou Diallo. On February 4, 1999, this 23-year old Guinean immigrant was shot and killed by four New York City Police Department plain-clothed officers—Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon, and Kenneth Boss. It was a case of mistaken identity, apparently. When Diallo reached to get out some identification these decorated officers (no less!) Put 44 bullets into him. He did not carry a guy. A jury in Albany, NY acquitted them of all charges.

It didn’t begin in 1999 though. The history of the USA is one of theft (land from the native peoples, the first nations, who were slaughtered) and violence (the nation was build by the labor of enslaved people and for those who don’t know history, Abe Lincoln wasn’t against slavery, he wanted to shift labor from the cotton fields to factories). There was systemic racist violence before Lincoln. It was there with the Ku Klux Klan. It was there in 1999. It was there in 2006. And it was there on May 25, 2020.

George Floyd, 46. He died in Minneapolis police custody. An officer was caught on video kneeling on the handcuffed mans neck, even after he pleaded that he could not breathe and stopped moving. Protests erupted all over the USA. The police responded. Violently. In one instance, a cop car plowed through protestors.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James posted a photo of the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck along with one of Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem. Here’s the caption for the Instagram post:

'This ... ... Is Why.’ And he asked, ‘Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you?? #StayWoke.’

Kaepernick and Bron are iconic for multiple reasons. They are both sportsmen. Personalities. Kaepernick knelt. He was in fact standing for something. He was also making a stand against something. The police officer knelt. He was standing for something that many police officers and the entire American system stands for. Racism. Brutality. It’s a sport. Well, it could be called a sport.

Consider this picture. There’s the one of Floyd, who is alleged to have written a bad cheque. There’s one of a white man who kidnapped one and killed two. Says it all doesn’t it.

Sport. Winners. Losers.  Is it as simple as that, though? No. It’s brutal. It’s racist. We are talking of two men. They both knelt. One stood for something and the other stood opposing that something. George Floyd is dead. He is not breathing.

Do we understand now? Do we? Do we? Or is it still blurred?

Other articles in the series titled 'The Interception' [published in 'The Morning']

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