You don’t know me.
And I don’t know you.
Hell, I’d never even heard of you until a few weeks ago — when news broke that a football player sat on the bench during pre-season football during our national anthem.
I imagine there are quite a few people who had never heard your name prior to September. There are a lot of people who know it now. And, for all that’s been written and said about your protest, for all the love and hate you’re getting, for all the derails and herrings, there’s a story a lot still seem to miss. Or at least, in some circles.
I know why you did what you did.
And I know that’s important.
See, so many people are talking about what you started — and a lot of them, aren’t talking much at all about why you sat to begin with. And that’s systemic racism. When society gets to uproar and take the focus off a black man’s platform to decide if he merits the platform at all.
I’m guilty too. And I’m sorry for that.
I got caught up and swept away. I, like most privileged people, focused on our flag and Constitution and the stupidity of mandated allegiances in a democratic republic. I engaged fully in the debate on if we are allowed the soapbox to stand on. And in doing so, I facilitated the derail that took attention away from the message your megaphone was sending.
I know why you sat.
I didn’t always.
For me, personally, it’s been a slow and sudden radical departure from everything I thought I understood about humanity. The learning curve is no excuse for my decades of colorblind ideology. And never will I fully comprehend. Never will I completely be able to wrap my mind and heart around the motivations you have as a black man. I know that.
But, you, in your determined decision, did reach those who can.
Students. Children. Young boys of color and their friends. Joining you in your sit to stand. Facing horrifying backlash and evidencing the discrimination this nation still perpetuates towards young black men. And women. Boys and girls of all ages who hear your message on a personal level and want to join you in your cause.
And they sit out to stand.
Because they live a reality we white people will never have to even acknowledge if we don’t want. They live in a society where white men and women can decide to stop talking about the message itself. We can (and do) refuse to acknowledge decades of evidence. We can (and do) justify the disproportionate treatments in maternal care, infant mortality, education, housing, employment, incarceration and the actual slaying of children as some sort of non-existent problem or isolated incidents in our privileged white dominated bubble. Hell, we can derail the very discussion about racism and decide the national narrative is really just about patriotism. We can even pretend that derail is the only discussion we’re having. (It isn’t). That’s how fucked up we are.
And still, they sit out to stand.
So, Kaepernick, while you don’t know me, and my words are irrelevant in the larger scope of it all, I want you to know:
Sure, I’ve argued that systemic oppression is real. I have joined the conversation and strived to educate and bring awareness to my white peeps and peers. I’ve argued that people of color are facing injustices so egregious we are not, in fact, a nation to be that proud of.
But truth be told, at the end of each day, I’m culpable. I know I can rest easy in my privileged status and think only about how fortunate I am to be a mom. I’ve got a kid in school making friends and learning about life and navigating his own dialogues. So, I turn my thoughts to him when I watch as these other young children follow your cause.
And then, I am — in awe.
Because you did it. You reached them. You touched them. You've given them hope. You’ve told them and shown them they deserve this fight. They have a right. It’s not just a game anymore.
You sat down and stood up for a generation. You created a conversation — in them. No more womb to early grave, these are children now defending their lives so they can have a better one — for themselves and those to follow.
And so… while you face the bigots and hecklers and trolls who would try to tell you that you’re making no real difference or dent at all. While our society attempts the derail your discussion…
I hope you know…
As a privileged white woman raising a child who has the utmost advantages this society could provide from his birth — your defiance is an anthem I’ll be sure, he will not only know, but be damned proud of.
Thank you Colin Kaepernick. From the depths of my heart.
This piece published on Medium.