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We’ve Always Led Them to Freedom

I stand for the American flag. I respect what it aims for if not its history. I don’t put my hand over my heart because my heart belongs to Allah (G-d) and I recognize that where this country was inspired to be, we’re not quite there yet. So my patriotism is a sober patriotism and when I stand in respect for the flag I am also respecting Colin Kaepernick’s decision and freedom not to stand. A social media comment recently noted, “after we get up from taking a knee, what do we do then?” A good point but Kaepernick’s protest has accomplished exactly what it set out to do—that is bring about a dialogue, as he appears on the cover of Time Magazine. Now everybody is taking a side one way or the other, and criticizing, one way or the other. And that’s better than pretending that there is nothing wrong.

Protests by athletes are not new and have in many cases been effective. I myself was inspired by the photo of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Olympic runners, who standing on the podium at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City in 1968, to receive their gold and bronze medals, raised their fists in black gloves during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. And everyone was inspired by the protest of Muhammad Ali, who sacrificed the prime years of his boxing career and became a symbol of resistance to the Viet Bam war by refusing to be indicted into the military service.

So even though I choose to stand, I applaud and respect Kaepernick for his courage because it has taken all of us, those who stood, those who sat, and those who took a knee, and those who gave a life, to advance this concept of freedom in America.

Some say these athletes should just be grateful for opportunity to make a lot of money, but people should realize the NFL and the NBA are not doing these athletes a favor. The athletes are a commodity and leagues and the networks make millions off of them. The relationship is mutual and the athletes don’t owe them anything.

There acts have exposed truths that needed to be exposed, like the millions of dollars the NFL receives from the Defense Department for their fake patriotic displays. Like the hate that is directed at these athletes for exercising their freedom. What’s the deal here? We respect all these great freedoms you have on paper as long as you don’t exercise them. Or is it that they want to define these freedoms for us and define how we should exercise them. Its just like freedom of religion. You can worship as you choose except for the backward folk who would add to that freedom…”as long as it’s not Islam.” Then there’s the right to bear arms which they hold so dearly but we all know that doesn’t apply to African Americans. Try open carry, concealed carry or BB gun or Bible or Qur’an carry, and you’ll find out how quickly you’re shot by police. This is the imperfection in the system and this is what we have to work on.

Those who buy into Trump’s campaign that there it is “us” against “them” are just backward and ignorant. I’ll put my contribution, that of my family, and that of my people, up against theirs any day. I am not the “other.” It is you and your ideas that are “foreign” to the spirit and meaning of America. So you can wrap yourself in the flag or paint it on your ignorant ass, you are no patriot. If you knew what America stood for, you’d know that Obama already made America great again.

The President recently stated: “My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Good schools are on the ballot. Ending mass incarceration, that’s on the ballot right now,” he said. “And there is one candidate who will advance those things, and there is another candidate whose defining principle, the central theme of his candidacy is opposition to all that we’ve done.” Go do the math, and then stop criticizing those who are at least trying to do something and figure out what you can do.