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Boardman writes: "To watch America's structural racism at work, one need look no further than the National Football League (NFL) and its treatment of nonviolent unorthodoxy as expressed by Colin Kaepernick going to one knee during the national anthem in support of the unacceptable thought that black lives should matter as much as anyone else's. Of course, that's still a relatively new idea in the United States, dating from 1863 in law and still not fully accepted in much of the country."

Colin Kaepernick. (photo: Jake Roth/Reuters)
Colin Kaepernick. (photo: Jake Roth/Reuters)


NFL Plantation Owners Ban Uppity Quarterback

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

29 August 17


American Shame: Colin Kaepernick is jobless for thought crime

o watch America’s structural racism at work, one need look no further than the National Football League (NFL) and its treatment of nonviolent unorthodoxy as expressed by Colin Kaepernick going to one knee during the national anthem in support of the unacceptable thought that black lives should matter as much as anyone else’s. Of course, that’s still a relatively new idea in the United States, dating from 1863 in law and still not fully accepted in much of the country.

Colin Rand Kaepernick, who turns 30 in November, is a proven professional football quarterback who chose to become a free agent after the 2016 season. He led San Francisco to the Super Bowl in 2012. He is good enough to play for most any of the NFL’s 32 teams, but none have signed him. A year ago, when unarmed black men shot by cops were getting heavy news coverage and while presidential candidates Clinton and Trump disparaged Black Lives Matter, Kaepernick undertook a solo protest, sitting during the national anthem before the first NFL pre-season game. In subsequent games, Kaepernick went down on one knee in silent, respectful protest during the Star Spangled Banner. Asked by an NFL Network reporter why he was doing that, Kaepernick said:

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder….

This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed.... If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.

At the time, official football – the league, his team, his coach – all spoke carefully about respecting Kaepernick’s “right as a citizen,” without engaging the issue he was raising. Kaepernick is bi-racial. He was adopted by white parents and raised in Wisconsin with white siblings.

Zeitgeist signals: Kaepernick blacklisted, Arpaio pardoned

In November 2016, a Miami Herald reporter asked Kaepernick about a shirt he had worn showing Fidel Castro and Malcolm X with the caption: “Like Minds Think Alike.” In discussing the shirt, Kaepernick reportedly said: “One thing that Fidel Castro did do is they have the highest literacy rate because they invest more in their education system than they do in their prison system, which we do not do here, even though we’re fully capable of doing that.”That sort of truth, spoken out loud, does not endear one to the overlords of the NFL or other American authorities, especially the ones who created and profit from the unaddressed, unending scandal of prisons for profit.

A year after he first spoke out by kneeling in silence, Colin Kaepernick is unemployed. Unarmed black men are killed by cops at a faster rate now than in 2016, but it’s not news so much any more. Kaepernick had his free speech, now he’s paying the price. The country has moved on to a more ardent defense of free speech by Nazis, white supremacists, the KKK, anti-Semites, and other bigots.

The Trump administration is contributing to social calm and order by setting out to give local police more military weapons, from armored troop carriers to grenade launchers.

The ugliest sign of the country’s darkening racial zeitgeist is President Trump’s pre-emptive, unprincipled, unconditional pardon of one of America’s most notorious police bigots, former sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, a man who spoke proudly of his brutal and deadly prison system as a “concentration camp.” Arpaio was awaiting sentencing when the President interdicted the judicial process with a hasty pardon, granted without any of the usual review and consideration. The brief White House announcement concluded with these lies:

Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.

Arpaio’s record is reasonably clear that he did little protecting of the public or the Constitution. His office operated with racist standards that encouraged police brutality and led to prisoner deaths from violence and neglect. Arpaio’s service as sheriff was not admirable but self-serving, obsessed with targeting Latinos regardless of guilt, while ignoring real criminal offenses, including domestic abuse and child abuse.

Kaepernick and the Star Spangled Banner of American irony

Some say Kaepernick is the victim of a blacklist. Others deny what seems obviously true. One of the deniers makes much of a few other players making similar gestures without consequences. But he leaves out critical facts: that these are players currently under contract and that they have a union to defend them. He makes a point of saying that “NFL rosters are 70 per cent Black,” without wondering why NFL rosters are close to 100 per cent without any expressed social conscience. He does not mention that NFL owners would be 100 per cent white but for some limited partners like Reggie Fowler of the Minnesota Vikings.

American racism is structural, institutional, shameless, and intractable. Electing Barack Obama in 2008 didn’t make the country a post-racial society any more than electing Donald Trump in 2016 makes the country a post-sane society. The abiding ambiguity of American madness can be seen in our “national anthem,” which has been our national anthem less than 100 years (adopted 1931).

The Star Spangled Banner celebrates the defense of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor in 1814 in Maryland, a slave state. The attacking British force included numbers of escaped slaves fighting for the British on the promise of earning their freedom. Francis Scott Key, who wrote the Star Spangled Banner, was a lifelong slave owner. A lawyer who served as US Attorney, Key used his office to prosecute abolitionists. In an 1837 prosecution of abolitionist Dr. Reuben Crandall for instigating a slave rebellion, Key said in his summation to the jury:

Are you willing, gentlemen, to abandon your country, to permit it to be taken from you, and occupied by the abolitionist, according to whose taste it is to associate and amalgamate with the negro? Or, gentlemen, on the other hand, are there laws in this community to defend you from the immediate abolitionist, who would open upon you the floodgates of such extensive wickedness and mischief?

Rendered in modern language, these are the same sentiments the racists of Charlottesville expressed in their exercise of free speech. In 1837, the jury acquitted Dr. Crandall. On the Charlottesville hordes, the jury is still out.

Maybe, should our public consciousness come to grips with the reality that our national anthem is a slave owner’s paean to the defense of a slave state, we might think more seriously about kneeling ourselves. That might be a better way to express our hope to become, truly, the land of the free and the home of the brave.



William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.


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+31 # desertprogressive 2017-08-29 23:30
"Maybe, should our public consciousness come to grips with the reality that our national anthem is a slave owner’s paean to the defense of a slave state, we might think more seriously about kneeling ourselves. That might be a better way to express our hope to become, truly, the land of the free and the home of the brave."

You got that right! Thank you Colin for having the strength and courage to stand up against oppression. You should be rewarded, not punished.

It's too bad that our institutions are so political and are on the wrong side of right and wrong.
 
 
-36 # egbegb 2017-08-29 23:41
Two reasons, neither of which is racist for not hiring CK. #1. He's bad for the game. His behavior helped drive attendance down. When SF owners didn't object to his behavior that sent a message that thinking Americans did not like. Disrespecting America when he is paid millions of dollars/yr is blindingly hateful. He should be on the SPLC hate list. CK basically gave the finger to all NFL fans.

#2. He couldn't and did not produce. His last year and a half saw him on the bench because of his lack of production. Only after his usefulness and skills declined did he go into his petulant antics. He had 9 years previously to do the same thing. He is quite obviously seeking attention and looking to play his racist card even though he is mostly white. CK is probably less black that BHO.

As long as owners of NFL Teams allow their players to express only progressive views (lies), I will never watch another NFL game. There are a huge number of Americans that feel the same way. WISE UP!
 
 
+20 # Saberoff 2017-08-30 09:43
Thumb down; finger up.
 
 
+25 # hectormaria 2017-08-30 09:50
"Disrespecting America when he is paid millions of dollars/yr is blindingly hateful." Ergo, being bought and sold, as long as it is handsomely rewarded, is OK. Slaves, regardless of their capabilities can never question, have to submit to their masters (especially if the powers-that be- are 'rich', 'superior' and 'White').
 
 
+16 # WBoardman 2017-08-30 13:13
egbegb offers a hilarious perception of pro football:
"owners of NFL Teams allow their players to express only progressive views" which, without one example,
egbegb calls "lies."

Insofar as that comment is meant to refer to Kaepernick.
it's clearly mistaken, if not rooted in prejudice.

As to #1: "He's bad for the game" – that is a traditional
authoritarian trope – used to keep sports White for
generations.

Worse, it doesn't hold up to scrutiny: if it's bad for the game
to protest social injustice, then maybe there's something
fundamentally wrong with the game. Maybe that's what
really driving down attendance (assuming it's a real decline
and not just a temporary dip).

Then there's the strangeness of considering it disrespect
for America to call for shooting fewer unarmed black men,
and to do so in a quiet, respectful way. "blindingly hateful"??
Seriously???

Dozens of NFL players have similarly protested during
the current pre-season, according to Sports Illustrated.
A trickle, not a trend, but free speech in action – exercised
by players protected by contracts and a union. Maybe this
develops further, maybe not. We can hope.

https://www.si.com/nfl/2017/08/22/national-anthem-protests-list-players-kneel

As for egbegb's #2, his ability to play is a fair standard. He played well for several of his six years, he had surgery, as far as is publicly known he is healthy now. If he's not blacklisted,
why no tryout?
 
 
+4 # Jim Rocket 2017-08-30 16:32
"sent a message that thinking Americans did not like"
Thinking Americans? Really? CK made football fans think and that's why they (and you) are upset. There's not supposed to be any thinking at a football game.
 
 
+23 # bubbiesue 2017-08-29 23:43
"Electing Barack Obama in 2008 didn’t make the country a post-racial society any more than electing Donald Trump in 2016 makes the country a post-sane society." It seems to me we are definitely post-sane. It's been since January 20th of this year, or perhaps more properly since November of 2016. It seems to me that few sane things have happened since then, in comparison with the Obama years--or even with the Bush years.

We are quickly tearing apart the fabric of a government which, while it has grown large, has provided for most of the nation's needs. It will take years to rebuild. Witness Dodd-Frank and the efforts to get rid of even that. We should be ashamed.
 
 
-21 # RLF 2017-08-30 06:35
It is despicable what is happening to Kapernick but on the other hand...he made as much in the couple of years he was playing to live better than me the rest of his life...so no crocodile tears for players, please.
 
 
+11 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2017-08-30 10:58
What the hell has THAT got to do with anything? Your jealousy overwhelms your cognition.

By your logic, no tears for any person who has worked hard to earn more money than you: not if they are killed, not if their bodies are wracked by the time they are 40, not if they acquire a terrible disease, not if their brains end up addled.

I'd be tempted to agree with you if Kaepernick were rich by birth and parentage, like some other notable people.

K worked hard to achieve what he has achieved, earned it, got no special favors.
 
 
+4 # Citizen Mike 2017-08-30 07:41
If Colin has been smart enough to save instead of spending wildly, he should by now be independently wealthy enough to never need a job. So he can get on with an active life as a spokesman for civil rights and a public rabble-rouser. In my opinion, he should tell the NFL to go to hell and walk away. He should enter the world of activism and public opinion, give speeches at rallies and find a spot on TV a a commentator on current events and social issues.
 
 
+2 # lfeuille 2017-08-30 18:33
I'm torn about this. I really hate what the NFL owners are doing in blackballing him, but on the other hand I hat the game of football and what it does to young men's brains. The longer he plays the better his chances of getting a concussion which could ruin the rest of his life and possibly shorten it. I think he would probably be better off as a full time activist.
 
 
+23 # jrobbie 2017-08-30 08:03
Well stated. America needs to turn the corner away from further Racism. Sadly his message rings so true, That the modern day athletes are owned for their entertainment value, and the social suppression of Black and Brown people continues within the 21st century America society.
 
 
+24 # in deo veritas 2017-08-30 08:24
Bravo! We are living in the age of insanity. Such a big deal about taking a knee during the anthem when to every event I have ever gone to where it is played, people are showing no respect. They are too ignorant to even put their hand over their heart. Too busy running their mouths, picking their noses, scratching their crotches, etc. These are supposedly adults and set a lousy example for children. Good point about Key. The pitiful excuses for history texts being used in our schools leave this out along with countless other nasty truths, leaving it up to teachers to expose them. I did my part for 36 years in the classroom. Still it is obvious that many of those who arte computer savvy but lacking in real expertise in their field "dropped the ball". What we saw in Charlottesville is evidence of that. If there is not a change in the direction this country seems headed how could any sane person expect God to bless America? Easy to blame Trump for everything but we need to blame ourselves for letting things get to this point. What we are witnessing has been around a long time but largely ignored. Wake up people.
 
 
+13 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2017-08-30 10:53
Just so the haters out there know, unlike the owners of NFL teams, Kaepernick earned his money through hard work. This country's tax system favors corporations and the rich so fantastically.. . few regular people can even imagine how much of their hard-earned money is sent to corporations and their large share holders.

Also, Kaepernick is a solid citizen of the US, long having contributed time and money to oppressed people. See his primary charity here: http://kaepernick7.com/
 
 
-1 # logical1 2017-08-30 20:22
I liked Colin Kapernik in his first year with the 49er's. I liked JImi Hendrix version of the Star Spangled Banner. I have no argument against his kneeling during the national anthem. When the 9'ers dumped Alex Smith for him, I questioned but it seemed the right decision. When the 49er's gave him 20+ million a year for a q'back that had a great team behind him and had proved nothing about winning,I thought they were nuts. Should have given him half that with incentives. After he proved his worth, then give him even bigger $'s.
To the point, Kapernik just got worse instead of more deterermined and better.
I do not know that he is a top Q'back.
That said there are teams that could use a minimum millions quarter back for backup or possibly first q'back. He should have proved himself on the field, then everyone would ignore or agree with his political statement. He has the right to make it.
 

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