Regardless of how you feel about the point he’s trying to make and the way he’s making it, his actions speak to the spirit that founded the United States of America. That is – the right to protest, even during the anthem. Admittedly, Kaepernick probably hasn’t really experienced the kind of discrimination he is supposedly trying to fight – being raised in upper class suburbia – but the essence of what he’s doing – protesting – is as American as apple pie. That’s what this article is about.
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy
The racial tensions in the United States definitely warrant the attention of both the public and policy makers. There is an inherent problem. However – it’s not as simple as some try to make it seem.
A Country Born in Protest
Thinking of American protests probably brings the Boston Tea Party to mind, or maybe Vietnam era marches through DC. All of these protests, at least, were standing for something morally respectable. Some of the people pushing the issue of race equality in the United States today do so extremely disrespectfully and with abundant ignorance. Being rude is not how you get people to listen to you. Neither is blocking ambulances.
A black and a white person will earn roughly the same amount doing the same work when they have comparable backgrounds. It is illegal to pay people differently for the same work based on factors such as race, gender, disability, etc. The discrepancies that exist between what people of different races earn arise because those individuals have different merits and work different jobs, some higher paying than others. That’s not racial injustice. That’s capitalism.
Is Colin Kapernick actually concerned about the welfare of his fellow citizens – the color of their skin notwithstanding? Probably not. However, this stunt has earned him a lot of attention and money. The sale of his jerseys has skyrocketed.
His actions, at least, have resurfaced an important conversation that society needs to have. Tensions are uncomfortably high.
What Would his Father say?
The family unit is the most important environmental factor in a child’s upbringing. Roughly 72% of black children are born in the USA out of wedlock, and nearly as much do not have contact with their biological fathers; some don’t even have contact with a father figure. How can children grow into well-rounded adults when the very foundation of their building block as a person, the home, is fragmented and incomplete? They can’t.
Colin Kaepernick can attest to this sad reality. His own father fled when he found out Colin’s mother was pregnant with him. However, the Kaepernick family, after meeting the then expecting mother, was enthralled with the idea of adopting the child, who would soon be born. Colin Kaepernick’s biological mother was equally as interested. It was a good match and an example of the adoption system working at its best. Colin had a stable upbringing in a family that loved and cared for him like their own, which allowed him opportunities that so many in the black community, and people in poverty in general, cannot afford.
Is there a systemic problem when it comes to US police and black people? Well, a recent study suggests that police were no more likely to shoot a black person than a white person in a similar situation. However, they were as much as 20% more likely to use force. Does this point to a systemic problem? Probably. The data is hard to ignore and even harder to argue against. It is important to remember that although the data does paint a picture of slight bias, it is not to the degree portrayed by the mainstream media. Controversy sells and they are experts at spinning anything and everything to make a dollar.
How do we fix it?
That’s a really difficult question. A better question is, “what’s not going to fix it?” Blaming the police is not going to fix this. They should get more training for dealing with mental health issues – because that kind of training is glaringly needed – but they shouldn’t be burned at the steak for the relatively few incidents the media has made a circus of. Often, the information the public sees and the evidence shown is edited or incomplete. By telling only parts of the whole story, the media can bend the narrative to keep eyeballs watching and dollars in their bank accounts.
Of course, those police officers who have truly broken the law they swore to uphold should be held fully accountable – but let those people pay for their crimes after they have been proven guilty in a court of law. Like protesting, due process is also a guaranteed right of the US Constitution.
The court of public opinion does not get to convict people.
If society is serious about fixing this issue, some cultural changes need to happen. The importance of family needs to be taught to the public once again, as it has clearly been forgotten. The best way to do this is in schools. Remind students when they’re young that a healthy family has balance. A healthy family has a father figure and a mother figure. (Gay couples can provide that. Two parents means balance, folks. Note use of the word “figures.”) Community outreach programs, not welfare options, need to be strengthened. If young kids who are struggling have confidence in themselves restored and something to work towards in their future, they’ll be far less likely to commit crimes and hang around with the wrong crowd.
Everybody has a role to play in making this situations better. From families, to communities, to governments, everyone can do something. But as already stated, families are the key to all of this. Without a solid family, everything falls apart, so for the most positive results in the shortest amount of time, start there.