By Beverly Gadson-Birch
NFL players are not the first to protest during the National Anthem. The players’ protest is in support of Colin Kaepernick and his right to kneel to bring attention to the disproportionate number of blacks that are killed by police officers in this country.
In the back of my mind, I remembered an Olympic protest back in the sixties so I turned to Wikipedia for help. It was during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Tommie Smith and John Carlos protested with a raised black power glove fist while facing the flag. Smith had just received a gold medal and Carlos a bronze medal. And, according to the Washington Post, the raising of the fist wasn’t the only form of protest by Smith and Carlos. They had carefully thought out a plan to bring awareness to “black poverty” so they took off their shoes. They had grown a beard “symbolizing the ‘strange fruit’ hanging from the poplar trees of the south”.
The article goes on to say that Carlos further defines their protest in his 2011 book “The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World”. Carlos had decided to unzip his Olympic jacket in defiance of Olympic etiquette, but in support of “all of the working-class people, black and white, in Harlem who had to struggle and work with their hands all day.” Then, in an even more defiant move, Carlos said he covered up the “USA” on his uniform with a black T-Shirt to “reflect the shame he felt that his country was traveling at a snail’s pace toward something that should be obvious to all people of good will. He said they were booed as the anthem played and people in the crowd started calling them names. And check this out, Carlos said “It was like they were saying, “Oh, you anti-American sons of bitches (sounds familiar?). The punishment, Carlos and Smith were “ordered to leave the stadium”.
I am a big advocate for incorporating Black History into the curriculum to be taught the entire school year. Blacks should not have to wait until February to be taught fact history about black history. Every day should be a lesson in “REAL” History, period. If “real history” is taught, there would be no need for Black History.
The further we delve into black history, the more violence we see perpetrated against blacks by slave owners and the more disconcerting the information. It is difficult to maintain your composure without becoming rebellious when you read about a slave owner selling his slave for a dime, whipping his slave until his skin is split opened and blood spilling down his torso to the ground, families torn apart for no reason and women and children raped. As horrific as Black history may be, it is important that it is taught to all children. Black children need to know their history so the cycle is not repeated. And, White children need to know so they can understand why blacks act like America owes them something, because she does. Kaepernick’s protest is one indication that we are already in the repetitive cycle of slavery.
Blacks are survivors and their children need to be told of that strong spirit that speaks to them loudly from the graves of their ancestors even today. Children need to be taught both the good and bad about the ordeals of slaves. The bad should motivate Black and White not to return to those days; the good demonstrates the brilliance and significance of black contributions and the atonement of the descendants of former slave owners for their atrocities.
Children need to know that nothing is ever settled through violence. If Black children knew their history, they would not be on street corners selling drugs, robbing the elderly and killing each other over drugs and other trivial matters. If White children would study Black History, they would have a better understanding of who Blacks really are and not who they are portrayed to be. They would understand the bias Black and Brown children face in this country. They have been fed so many lies about the inferiority of people of color until they believe it. So, what if it is 400 years later and we are still hurting, the scars are still present. Racism is still real. Discrimination is still present. Education is still not equal. There are still great disparities in the way Blacks are treated in America. There are discriminatory lending practices that make it difficult for Blacks to obtain loans. There is a concentrated effort to curb black businesses by limiting contracts. There is still the problem of whites not supporting black businesses or voting for black candidates. There is still the problem of housing. There is still the problem of Blacks not being appointed to certain boards and commission. There is still the problem of Blacks being restricted to certain neighborhoods because of the high cost of homes in the more affluent neighborhoods. Black children need to know this.
In order to save our children from the streets and white trickery, they need to be educated. Black children need to know what their forefathers endured so they could have the opportunities that they do. Black children need to be able to feel that they are somebody and they have a place in this world. They need to know that although it may be difficult to achieve their goals, it is not impossible. They need to know that if they continue to chip away at those things blocking them from achieving their goals, they will get there eventually if they are persistent. They need to know that there is no honor in hanging around on street corners but plenty of trouble. They need to know that killing each other is not the answer to injustices but seeking justice is.
Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., asked the question “how long?” Since you know how to read and write, my questions to you are: how long do you let others steal your land that you have worked so hard for, how long? How long do you sit back and not vote, how long? How long do you sit idly by knowing that your children are being denied equal access to a quality education, how long? How long do you allow others to trample on your rights, how long? And how long do you stand when others kneel to protest discrimination? How Long?
SUPPORT BLACK OUT SUNDAY! I love football but I support those that support me. I support Kaepernick!! Here goes miseducation in its most egregious form!! Kaepernick and NFL players are not dishonoring the flag as some may have you believe. They are protesting what America does under the flag that flies “over the land of the free and the home of the brave”.
Now you know why it was unlawful for Blacks to learn how to read and write!! It was to keep the slaves in darkness. Y’all know, I’se for one should have never learned how to read and write. Momma used to say, “when you know better, you do better”. Well, I know better. Knowledge eradicates lies and lies cannot live forever when confronted by the truth. Y’all hear what I say?