What are we angry about ?

What are we angry about ?

Perspective can lead to dangerous misunderstanding
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When I first heard that Colin Kaepernick had refrained from standing for the national anthem, I was taken aback and felt the slightest twinge of anger. I believe that is a very knee-jerk reaction for any American who was born and raised to be proud of and love their country. However, after taking a moment to understand why Kaepernick did what he did, I realized that my pride as an American momentarily stood in the way of my compassion as a human being. The problem was that for a second, I allowed my own personal experience to stand in the way of a much bigger picture. It is my belief that fellow Americans who are criticizing Kaepernick's actions are allowing the same issue of perspective to continue affect their reasoning. In the fallout of his actions, the 49ers quarterback has been attacked for disrespecting his country, the men and women who have died protecting it, and the white community as a whole.

While at a cursory glance it might seem that that is what Kaepernick was doing, if given even a moment of extra thought, people would understand that his actions in no way contradict the values that we hold as Americans, but rather supports them in one of the freest and greatest ways possible.

For those who feel that Kaepernick's actions disrespect our country, our nation was built on people taking a stand for what they believe in; for doing something risky and seemingly disloyal to fight for equal rights and opportunities. And no, the act of not standing for the national anthem will not spark a war that attempts to disestablish the government. What it will do is call attention to the inequalities that African Americans face everyday in our so-called equal nations. Additionally, from the women's rights movement to Martin Luther King Jr.'s impact on our country, peaceful protest has long been a cornerstone to American advancement. There is nothing more peaceful than choosing to remain quietly yet noticeably seated. While many claim that this form of peaceful protest was wrong in that it disrespected the song of our country, what strikes many as distinctly more disrespectful is the fact that hundreds of innocent lives are lost due to racial profiling and irresponsible racism that plagues our law enforcement. Americans should be less concerned with something that disrespects a national symbol, than with actions that disrespect national lives. Kaepernick never said that he was ashamed to be an American or that he held disrespect for his country. His actions stood for the sadness and anger he feels when he sees that other Americans are not acting under the equality and justice that our anthem stands for. He is not protesting our nations, he is protesting that we have moved away from the ideals that our nation stands for, which is perhaps one of the most American things a person can do.

As for the argument that Kaepernick is disrespecting the lives lost defending our freedom, I would like to counter that he is doing exactly the opposite. By using his freedom of action, Kaepernick is taking full advantage of the liberties that our military has fought to secure for us. Again, Kaepernick is not sitting out of context for our country and its most honorable men and women, rather he is sitting in protest that the rights that our military fights for are being denied to African Americans through out the nation. By using his platform to bring attention to this issue, he is honoring the lives of Americans who died defending our country by exercising the rights they fought to protect.

Finally, many have argued that because Kaepernick is half white, and was adopted and raised by white parents, he has no right to take a stand on this very important issue of racism in our country. The issue is, these people are not looking at the bigger picture. Kaepernick is not protesting against his family or his own personal experiences. In fact, he is not making this about himself at all. His background is not the discussion point here, and it should remain irrelevant. He is protesting the injustice that fellow African Americans, who are not as privileged or fortunate as him face everyday. While it is wonderful that Kaepernick was able to be so successful, the reality remains that racism is still very alive in America, particularly seen through the lives of black people lost to law enforcement. Attempting to use the success of one black man to make the struggles that the community as a whole faces illegitimate, is both ignorant and irresponsible. Kaepernick is not protesting for the rights of one man, he is protesting for the rights of a community as a whole. In the same vein, he is not attacking the entire white community. Clearly he has white people in his life who have treated him with love and respect. So instead of distorting his stance, we must all look at it as something that is bigger than him. This is not about an isolated case or individual actions. This is about a culture that needs to change, and one man's attempts to draw attention to that.

Cover Image Credit: http://3i26kd3p1usa3cefqi1ay96t13o6.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/colin-kaepernick.jpg

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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