If I told you that there was a company that Business Insider valued at $75 billion dollars, had wildly successful locations in 32 American cities, employed almost 4,000 people, had it’s very own media outlet, and has a growing international presence I expect that you would be impressed. And then if I told you that about 5% of the employees of that company forced a formal dialogue and a public acknowledgment of social injustice by staging a silent, peaceful and lawful protest I expect you to be impressed again- if you are a rational person, of course.
This is exactly where we stand with the NFL protests against police brutality and the complicity of the criminal justice system. To the extent that a victory could be had in this scenario, the protesters have secured it. They have won. One of the most powerful companies in the entire world listened to them and has agreed to take action to address their concerns. What else is there? The NFL owners are made up of billionaires from various professional backgrounds but not a one of them is a legislator or a law enforcement official. They are private citizens just like the players who were protesting and all they can do is advocate for a cause and formally support that position. And despite the posturing and protestations of Jerry Jones- with his schizophrenic contravening messages- that is exactly what the league governance has agreed to do.
When a contingent of players and owners met on Wednesday of this week to discuss the protests and the league stance on what should be done, the men in that room secured agreement that the NFL would formally support federal criminal justice reform legislation and financially support “activist boot camp” which is a creative effort to help train citizen activists on how to effectively move powerful and entrenched interests in thier favor. So if you are into keeping score- and I am- what the protesting players have come away with is more substantive, impactful and valuable than anything that we have seen in our country since the days when John Lewis was spilling his blood in Selma. Most of us weren’t even born then.
What is most encouraging is that they secured it in the face of searing criticism from irrational people ranging from the passive observer who never heard of Colin Kaepernick, to the season ticket holder who booed and jeered at the players who decided to take a stand by taking a knee, to the unhinged lunatic living in the White House. But that was to be expected. The criticism from voices who openly expressed empathy with the players and sympathy with their cause was not expected and seemed like it may actually undermine their efforts.
A senior editor with The New York Times expressed that the protests were ill-advised, ill-focused and could be self-defeating. Taking a knee was playing into the hands of the Trump-Trolls who seem to be multiplying like gremlins these days, he feared. And what exactly do these guys want anyway? What in the hell did they want people to do? Just stand up for the anthem and lay claim to what is yours as much as anybody else’s. Well now that these guys have made their point and secured a spot in history, I’ll be bold enough to answer that question for them: These men wanted to be heard. They are American citizens who were hurting and they wanted the world to know about it. It is not their job to draft legislation or to make policy. But they felt strongly about what was happening in their country to citizens like them and they exercised their 1st Amendment right to express it. Protests are not designed to make people comfortable and the protester makes a decision that he is willing to pay the cost to get his point across.
It takes far more guts to do that than to sit on your ass and object to their methods. These guys put their livelihoods on the line for a cause and made a difference. It has been a long time since we have seen anything quite like this.
Now that I’ve given the protesting players the pat on the back that they deserve, it is time for the kick in the ass that so many others deserve. Those of you who wanted the players silenced by the owners because you were pissed off about these men expressing themselves wherever they decided to do it are either blinded by emotion or ignorant of what it means to be an American. You have neither the right nor any invitation to tell another man how to feel, what to say or how to say it. I don’t give a damn how you try to parse it, there is an inherent racism in white people getting emotionally fired up because they can’t tell black people what do do- especially when what they are doing is not affecting them in any way. I don’t care if you pleasure yourself every night to a plastic sex doll wrapped up in an American flag and then pray to it when you wake up in the morning, you don’t tell me or anybody else what the f*ck to do. If you are not willing to stand up for the rights of somebody to express ideas that you disagree with then you are the one who is a disgrace to America- not the peaceful protester. You want to impose your own personal values and views on other people and there is NOTHING less American than that.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 9 years there has been a rash of highly publicized killings of unarmed black people by heavily armed police officers under questionable circumstances. Wherever you stand on the protests, you have to be a first ballot jerk-off in the jerk-off hall of fame NOT to understand why black folks have gotten a little upset about that reality and have wanted to see some sign that such killings were not the new normal. It would have been pretty cool of you to express some concern about that situation before you started foaming and frothing at the mouth because everybody doesn’t share your predilection for propaganda passing as patriotism.
The simple reality is that asshole you voted into the White House is still pissed off because he tried a few times to buy an NFL team back in the day and they wouldn’t let him into their club. So now he’s trying to get pay-back by turning your dumb ass against the league by bringing all of this drama to an issue that was actually working itself out. You lynch-mob jackals fell for it and ran to take his side because that’s what you do. This guy is so patriotic he ducked out on military service when it was his time to fight with five sissy-ass draft deferments. But I am sure you don’t care about that. Just as long as he’ll call black and brown people names and encourage white people to seize control over them in a way that makes you feel powerful- either by firing them from their job or building a wall to keep them away. The good news is that the protesting players knew their value and they used it for good. The NFL owners knew it too. That is why they gave Donald Trump the finger one more time for old time’s sake. But don’t feel left out because on behalf of the players and all conscientious citizens everywhere, I’ve got one for you too.