Why are we still debating taking a knee? A very good friend, that I love, suggested that we should kneel but put our hands over our hearts to honor our heroes—which I can’t say that I hate that idea—on one hand it could be a unifying action that brings us together. On the other hand, I feel like that’s once again asking us to compromise, be less angry, and take a little less that what we deserve and what’s owed to us. Think about why we’re here: A black man in the NFL took a knee in protest of the police brutality and inequality suffered by people of color. The white institution that paid him took great offense to his peaceful protest and ostracized him for having an opinion—for daring to use his position and influence to shine a light on a very real problem in America. Now think of where we MIGHT be had this NFL player gotten support from other black players (he didn’t because they don’t want to rock the boat and threaten their paychecks because nothing divides black people quite like money—but I digress) think about if support came from his white teammates and the white organizations throughout the NFL—but he didn’t receive it—his PEACEFUL act of kneeling was seen as an aggression against America and he was fired. How dare he disrespect our country and our flag? That’s what the president and his minions said with their pitchfork tweets and FB torches.
Think about it: anytime a person of color dare dissent from supremacist ideals—the first thing you’re told is to go back to your country or leave because this is America! Meanwhile, Native American ancestors are going, “Bitch, this wasn’t even YOUR America!” No one wants to say, America was founded on supremacy. People came here—thought they were better than the people that were already here—killed them, raped the women, and assimilated the rest. Then, let’s bring over Africans to work and till the land we stole and call it progress and prosperity when we give them less and never gave them a fair start to begin with to have the same access to those freedoms and justice and equity and equality for all that our flag is supposed to represent. There is a lot of flag-worship. You have some Americans that proudly wave the American flag but when they do it, that flag only represents an America that isn’t inclusive of all; or it is inclusive as long as people of color stay in their place and that’s not equal to white people. When we say the pledge, it ends with “indivisible with freedom and justice for all” How can anyone pledge allegiance to lie? Divisions of racism, inequity and inequality have not been corrected for almost 300 years—that is what the kneeling is about. Kneeling in protest is not about disrespect for our vets and it bothers me when people think that. Never mind those black and brown veterans that fought alongside the white ones only to come home and STILL be treated as less than since the wars began as America. There are many that will say that they don’t take kneeling personally because the reason they fought was so those ideals can be afforded to every American, yet they are not. Hell, they aren’t ideals afforded to every SOLDIER! Look at the case of LaVena Johnson.
Kneeling isn’t done to disrespect America—America needs to respect itself and address the hypocrisy on which it was created.You can’t build something or move forward on a foundation that’s bullshit. It will crumble—again and again and again. Are all men are created equal? No, they aren’t. But people complaining about taking a knee ignore that. If people can’t even acknowledge their micro-racism—how are we going to fix the big racism? I don’t believe that black and brown people hate America—that’s not what kneeling is about. They want a seat at the table—they want the same opportunities and access to the grace that white people have in this country and they want the equity to get there.
They want America to live up to the hype.
Afro Bo Peep is a teacher and occasional activist/poet. Once in a while, she has opinions she will share with her cat, but the really strong ones, you can find here.