It would seem of late that everywhere my eyes would glance, I see memes, posts, articles and overall controversy surrounding some National Football League player by the name of Colin Kaepernick.
This gentleman apparently sat during the American national anthem in protest of the, recently media spotlight awarded, police brutality and systemic racism against people with eumelanin in their skin; the action of which was met with outrage, outburst and ended spiraling out of proportion.
The majority of the public accused the young man of being unpatriotic, disrespectful and pretentious, as he himself was a well-to-do chap, adopted by white parents, and has no notion of the oppression faced by the black community. Now are there a great number of things far more important than a man sitting during the singing of a song? Hell yes! But I thought meh….why not jump into the middle of this overblown media maelstrom to discuss some important issues; and in the process resolve this controversy.
Before nationality, skin tone or religious inclinations I am first and foremost human, and I assume those of you reading this are too, unless you are the extra-terrestrials that have been trying to contact us from the Hercules constellation, in which case I say “Hello! Thank you for contacting us despite the fact that we look and sound like imbeciles” Wait, Wait I’m receiving a message from SETI. What was that? It was a Russian interference signal? Damn you Russia! Explain to me your compulsion to always interfere and fuck things up! A pissing contest against the tyranny of the NATO? Oh that’s fine then, carry on.
Pardon the tangent….. Distractions are something that will come up again before this article is done. But to continue; I am human and as a human I see the suffering of other humans, thus I am empathetic regardless of nationality, financial status, upbringing or faith, mine or otherwise.
I didn’t get the memo that one can’t help another unless one has undergone the same tribulation . If there is any logic to this, much like the “vine-famously” abrupt WWE superstar John Cena, I can’t see it.
Was it however disrespectful and unpatriotic of him to sit during the singing of the national anthem, a symbol that represents, the strife and struggle of the brave and “free” revolutionaries who fought to gain independence, the sacrifice of the men and women who gave up their lives to protect the United States from its enemies?
Let me afford some perspective. It is far less disrespectful and unpatriotic than sending in soldiers to wars for political and profiteering agendas. It is far less disrespectful and unpatriotic than the improper rehabilitation and sometimes outright ill treatment of the veterans that have returned, after sacrificing life and limb for causes they thought were for the betterment of the nation.
But I personally have a bias towards being unpatriotic since this country was built upon the blood and bones of natives, not to mention the sweat and suffering of slaves and as a means to evade taxation more than monarchy. But the past although must not be forgotten should also not be dwelled upon to a fault.
This brings us to the issue that Colin Kaepernick fights for by sitting down. Racial discrimination specifically surrounding police brutality, which means we have to dig into the dirty segregation and marginalization of racial statistics.
-Population distribution by race: The 2015 census states that the population of African Americans is 13.3% and the White population (excluding the Latinos and Hispanics who constitute to 17%) amounts to 61.6%
- Incarceration and Crime: According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report of 2014, the number of black offences accounted to, approximately, 28.7% of the total criminal infractions reported even though they constituted only 13.3 % of the population.
It gets more jarring as the report shows that 49.4% of Murder and Non-negligent manslaughter offences were attributed to the black population whilst 48.2 % were said to be committed by white people, a figure when the population was normalized would mean that over 90% of the black community was responsible for Murder.
Further analysis of this data indicates that a black person is five times more likely to be incarcerated by the law than a white person
-Punishment: Adding more fuel to this the racial disparity, a study conducted by the US department of Justice, from 2005-2012, Black criminals received 10% more longer sentences than whites for the same crime
- Police Brutality: A compilation of reports gathered show that the total number of cop killings in 2015 was 1307 and according to an open source research agency almost half of this figure were citizens of colour. We’re still a quarter away from the end of the year and the last recorded number of law enforcement killings in 2016 was 790. In contrast the number of officers killed by gunfire in 2015 is 42.
- Shootings and ethnicity: The extensive use of force by the police is determined by several factors, the most important of which is whether the suspect is armed or not. However, according to a 2015 research paper by one Cody T. Ross, the extensive use of force by police, to the point of opening fire, was largely unaffected by the suspect being armed or not when the suspect in question was African American, in comparison to the significant impact it had when the suspect was white.
The figures state that the likelihood of a black person being shot by the police was three times more than the probability of a white person being shot.
-Accountability and indictment: Of the officers responsible for the afore mentioned killings, only 3% of them were held accountable and were indicted, and less than 1% were convicted.
Even after giving leeway to factors including, background, location, association, psychology and other bias, these statistics are still shocking, and proof, that despite the Civil rights act, and the issuing of the Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies which made racial profiling illegal, systemic racism, discrimination and police brutality still prevails to a significant extent.
However, whilst this is an issue of great import that we must combat, the media showering Colin Kaepernick with excessive attention draws away from other issues of dire severity and immediate consequence that are currently happening around the globe, most of which the American government has played a key role in causing.
We are very distractible creatures…be it chasing after Instagram/Facebook affirmation in the form of likes and shares or chasing after virtual beasts on Pokémon Go… and like jumped up stage magicians/psychics, the media takes advantage of this fact, feeding this need of ours…to be distracted (by making the fact that a single celebrated athlete sat during the national anthem one of the most controversial and talked about topics), some even going as far as to delude themselves that the very magic they fake is real. As a disclaimer I must say I speak of the misled majority.
To end on a positive note though, as I mentioned in previous articles, flaws are something we have many of but we, as humans, must always look to right our wrongs and strive to be better.
That is what gets me up in the morning.
That is what gives me hope.