I am sure you are all aware of the political circus cruising around the NFL like a virus in a retirement home? The reason for this, in my opinion, has little to do with our American flag. In fact, I consider the flag to be the “fall-guy” for a very real situation occurring in the United States. What do you do when you have a very dedicated military veteran and his family and friends who are passionate about the flag and what they believe it stands for, against another family who has lost someone close to them due to racially targeted police brutality they believe is rampant in our country? Well, what you have is a never-ending war against each other between two parties of people emotionally ignorant of the other’s pain because of their own painful loss. Not because both reasons aren’t justified, but because both have experienced what real terror is and both are trying to make their situation better. So, we are faced with what seems to be escalating racial tensions at a time when race relations should be getting better.
So, what has happened and how do we fix it? Does kneeling for the National Anthem really do anything to improve the situation? In fact, to a certain degree we have lost sight of what the original intent of the protests were for. We have moved from protesting racially targeted police brutality to showing solidarity against our president’s goofy tweets. But let’s put that aside for a moment and get back to the real issue. The opinions of both sides of the fight will be difficult to change. To be honest, if you really took the time to understand both perspectives, you would probably not blame either of them for reacting the way they are?
I have had many family members fight in wars. They would tell me there is no description for it. My grandpa always said, “I wish people knew the reason why we still have this country. If they knew the real evil out there, they would lay the red carpet out for every soldier arriving back in the United States. They would cherish the flag and it’s meaning above all else.” Now I don’t know what war looks like myself and I hope I never will, but I do know that many hold our flag as a very emotional symbol representing what they and others have fought and died for. I’d be ignorant if I didn’t understand that. Wouldn’t you if you had friends die by your side protecting the flag people are supposedly “disrespecting” now? Hell, we even had children’s game (Capture the Flag) to establish how important a flag was. Bottom-line, most of the people kneeling in the NFL have not fought in a war to protect our country and can’t relate to the emotions involved with the American flag. We are the land of the free because of the brave. Patriotism is a key part of the fabric of our country.
However, now let’s talk about the other side. This side, which I have learned to better understand, is the side that is most difficult for many to understand and it is, in fact, despised by many Americans. The kneeling during the anthem was a movement started by Colin Kaepernick in reaction to the abuse of law enforcement in predominantly black low income areas. I want to say first and foremost; police brutality is real. If you don’t believe it, find some friends from the Hood and ask them what their experiences were with the police. I have had close friends tell me they witnessed family members get shot and killed by the police or get harassed for no reason. How can I have the right to tell them kneeling is wrong when I have never lost anyone in a police shooting? It is their right as Americans to protest what they believe our government has seemingly ignored. In those predominantly black areas, the police are viewed as bullies and not protectors of the land. If this is real or even if a large percent of the population believe it to be real, then our government should make drastic changes, don’t you think? I mean, that’s what I would do if I saw a problem big enough to disrupt an act of pride in our “PROUD NATION!”
Some would argue that more whites are shot and killed by police than blacks. And they would be right. In fact, the Washington Post has been collecting data since 2015 on police killings. Would you be surprised to know that in 2017 alone, as of 9/26/17, there have been 730 police related killings. Of those, 326 were white, 165 were black, 112 were Hispanic with the remaining unknown or other. Given that about 12 percent of the population is black, the fact that 22% of the killings were black might suggest there is some merit to the protestor’s argument.
Overall, what we can take from this is that neither side will back down and both sides have reason to be doing what they are doing. The sooner we all realize why both sides won’t back down, the sooner we can bring both sides together. Remember, most everyone has lost someone and it usually is the reason why people get so emotional on topics such as this.