For the last 14 months this nation has been involved in a heated dialogue about protesting and the First Amendment. This stems from now ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem at the beginning of games.
From the beginning he, and other NFL players who have joined him have been clear about their actions. This is not about our military, our nation, or our flag. This is about injustice and inequality systematically perpetrated against people of color in this country.
The national anthem, which ends with “land of the free and the home of the brave,” is not living up to its own creed. Legal, peaceful, non-violent attention needed to be drawn to this situation.
In many of my discussions on this topic, there is a concept that’s commonly presented by those who oppose the protesting football players. They make statements like: “They’re million-dollar crybabies” or “Shut up and play football” or “You’re rich; why are you protesting?” The majority of the protesting athletes are African-American who come from impoverished neighborhoods or lived in poverty at some point themselves.
This philosophy is a microcosm of a larger issue of classism in this country. There is a clear line of demarcation between the “haves” and the “have nots” in America -- to the point that we have criminalized poverty.
The suffering of others is an issue of humanity and should be reason for engagement, regardless of race, social-economic status, or education.
My father always told me, “The higher you ascend, the further you reach back.”
I’m Joe Mitchell, and this is my perspective.