I don’t even know where to start…

As a writer in college I experienced both backlash and praise for the things I laid my not-so-wise opinion on. Gun violence, the Chief Wahoo debacle and other hot-button issues that affected discourse at Bluffton University when I went there. All that being said, I deliberately stayed away from the NFL protests.

I’ll admit two things right off the back. The first being that I am one of those “hippie-dippie” liberal Millennials that you hear so much about. The second being that I wasn’t always like that.

I grew up in a single parent household with a stern father, and I attended a Catholic school where I didn’t even realize that rhetoric being thrown at me, day-after-day, was shaping my way of thinking. Till I went to college, and sometime during my sophomore year, while taking a course focused on gender, race and the way we communicate those things, I felt my brain shifting. Yes, this was the same way that my catholic grade school and high school pumped rhetoric into the synapses firing in my brain, but it was a rhetoric that I felt was more true, on the basis on the way I felt the world worked. You see, both what conservatives and liberals believe is grounded in truth, and then it becomes murky with lies, agendas, hatred and self-righteousness— I’ll let you figure out which is which. I guess the fact that I was able to flip-flop my world view so easily, means that I am either open to new ideas, or fickle and willing to change my mind the next time someone stands in front of me telling me how I should think.

I know what I’m about to write will upset people. My thinking on topics like this has upset many before the readers of this article. I like my writing appealing to both schools of thought, but you know what? Sometimes you gotta— Just Do It.

As you know, Colin Kaepernick has become the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” ad. The tag line for the ad was “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

In the days since the release of that ad, there has been a flurry of action happening. Let me say, that no matter how much you might hate Nike right now, please do not burn your clothes and shoes. You already bought them, burning them isn’t showing Nike anything, and you aren’t “owning the libs.” If you never want to wear Nike again, donate the clothes. Some one will wear them. Moving on, in the days since Levi and Ford has come to support the NFL players and their protesting.

You hear so much today that the media is pushing an agenda, and trying to distract from what is actually going on. When in fact we have been fed misinformation and rhetoric about the protest themselves. Somehow the President and others against the protest started by Kaepernick have convinced the country that those taking the knee during the Star Spangled Banner are protesting those in armed services, the flag, and the anthem itself. When point blank—it isn’t. Though I know you have heard that in some capacity and refuse to believe because when we play the National Anthem we preface it with saying that we are honoring our troops.

Kaepernick started taking a knee because he thought the country’s self-proclaimed identity as being a place of equality and freedom is far from the true reality. He believed that because of the police brutality and the killing of unarmed minorities by the police in our country, to which a lot people in this country is calling hogwash. Let me remind that for a lot of people it took the Rodney King incident to even accept that there was such a thing as police brutality.

Focusing on the why the NFL players are kneeling— I think that the reason so many people are drawing issue with the message and the protest because they think the message is insinuating that police officers are racist. Heck, even Kaepernick himself wore socks that depicted the police as pigs. I think that depiction of police officers is too bleak. Then again, I’m a white guy.

I truly believe that very few people consciously make an effort to suppress other races. You can talk to anyone and they will say “I’m not racist,” (which by the way if you have to start a sentence with “I’m not a racist, but….” then you probably shouldn’t say it). It is my viewing of the world that we truly don’t consciously make judgments and assumptions about people based on the way they look or how they speak. I just believe that country is still being hurt from it’s past. The past of segregation and slavery— along with everything we did do consciously to oppress another race.

Ghettos still exist because of banks red-lining districts and not giving loans to minorities in certain parts of towns. That is why in most cities in the country there is still “black schools” and “white schools.” It isn’t because we are trying to segregate people, but more like we are feeling the residuals effects of segregation. That is where these stereotypes come from. The fact that much of our country is still segregated, though not by law now, is seeping in our subconscious. We see other races, and since we don’t spend time around them and learn their cultures or get to know them, we start associating these stereotypes with races as if they are one size fits all.

That is why I think these tragedies where unarmed minorities are getting killed by police officers are happening. We have institutionalized minorities in poverty, and we have given them very little chance to claw out of said poverty. So a residual effect of that is violence and crime—much like the European immigrants experienced when they first came over. The difference was that even at their lowest points in this country’s history they were never beneath those who were not white.

It seems like to me that these incidents keep happening because when these highly stressful events happen, we let our instincts kick in, and subsequently when our subconscious is driven by stereotypes and prejudice— bad things happen, especially when a gun is involved. The black community is tired of seeing their unarmed brothers and sisters dying at the ends of those who enlisted to “serve and protect.”

It’s not about the military, it never was. It’s not about our flag or our anthem, like our President says it is. Every time you ask a player that kneels they will tell you the same.

I’ve rambled long enough.

That is a privileged white sports writer, who went to predominantly white schools, and avoided talking about race as much as he could his entire life’s admittedly self righteous take on why Kaepernick and other NFL player are kneeling.

I’m sure much of this is incoherent babbling (because for a large part, it is). Like I said it as always been something I have steered clear from. If you would like to discuss it with me further, or perhaps just call me an idiot, feel free to by email at sports@timesbulletin.com