Taking a Knee Stands for Something

If you are not a person of color, and you are judging the #takeaknee protests for being an insult to our anthem, our flag, or our country, do these 10 things.

by Shadra Bruce

If you are not a person of color, and you are judging the #TakeAKnee protests for being an insult to our anthem, our flag, or our country, I urge you to:

  1. Recognize that the protest is not about the flag or the anthem (or football).
  2. Understand that there is no possible way you or I could ever even come close to understanding what it’s like to grow up black or brown in this country – and that so recognizing is only the beginning of becoming an informed person when it comes to race, equality, and justice in this country. The disparity is real.
  3. Educate yourself. You can gain empathy and compassion for the experience of others, even if you can never actually comprehend the true terror of the atrocities they have endured.
  4. Stop placing judgment on where protests happen or when they are happening or why you think they’re happening, and instead of offering your opinion about alternative means of protest you find less offensive, recognize that this has happened because no one is listening and nothing is changing. So LISTEN. Hear the concerns and fears.
  5. Acknowledge the injustice. Acknowledge that when you get pulled over by an officer, the risk you face is far less than what it is for people of color – even when they are 100-% compliant and innocent.
  6. Recognize that a person can be against police brutality and still support the police, that a person can want police officers who have committed crimes to be removed from their jobs (just as we would teachers, priests, and politicians who violate our trust and don’t uphold their promises), without disparaging all the great officers who put their lives on the line every day.
  7. Acknowledge that this country has always had a problem with race and that it is a very powerful basis for the inequality that still exists today – that sometimes you can’t just pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and make a better life for yourself, that some people do start out with an advantage that others have no access to.
  8. Question your own motives. If you were supportive of Tim Tebow taking a knee after every touchdown to thank Jesus Christ because that was something about which he felt strongly; if you were supportive of Kim Davis protesting gay marriage by refusing to issue marriage licenses because that was her belief; it’s important to examine why those incidents were okay – why them and not Colin Kaepernick.
  9. Start learning about the racist history of this country. Read Race by Studs Terkel; White Like Me and Dear White America by Tim Wise; Race Matters by Cornel West and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.
  10. Start listening to people of color – without passing judgment. Listen to their stories, their concerns, their first-hand experiences. Hear them. Imagine how you would feel if your child had endured the same experiences, if you had.

Open your heart and your mind.

It is the only way forward.

 

The Patriot Is a Scarce Man

“In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” ~ Mark Twain

by David T. Bruce

dissent_fb_picYou know, I don’t often speak out in regards to what are often perceived as social injustices, but this seems like a proper time to do so, maybe because I feel so passionately about the direction I see our country taking in regards to foreign and domestic policies.

I served my country. I was a member of our military forces, and I served with pride and distinction. I served more than others, less than some, and I do not pretend to have sacrificed of myself in the same way that those in combat have. But I do feel that I have perspective.

I do not regret having served during a time when I believed that the causes that we were fighting for were just. But we are not always right. And I don’t think what we are right now. Our country is run largely by career politicians who do not give two shits about you, me, or the world we live in. We have a citizenry being brainwashed to believe that simply because we protest, we are not patriotic. We are led to believe that because we choose to protest our government, we are damning its citizens and our troops.

[ctt template=”8″ link=”bPYfp” via=”yes” ]Our country is run largely by career politicians who do not give two shits about you, me, or the world we live in.[/ctt]

Personally, I have a great deal of respect for those who choose to defend our country. But I have a great deal of disrespect for a government who turns a blind eye to the fallout associated with sending our troops into conflict for causes that are essentially self-serving, without a means to defend themselves, and without a support system in place when they return home.

I have a great deal of disrespect for local, state, and federal governments who fail to see the injustices served upon citizens of our country simply because of their skin color or their choice of religion. When did it become okay for rogue officers to take the law into their own hands? When did it become okay to openly and passionately discriminate against an entire race because of the actions of a relatively small percentage of radicals? Or has it always been this way in the United States?

Do we truly believe that when calling out the behavior of one, we are condemning an entire lot? As a society, I suspect many are comfortable with the idea of deporting an entire population of Muslims because of the actions of a few. Yet we bristle when one officer is condemned, for fear of bringing shame to an entire force. It is for the sake of the majority that we must single out the one.

Frankly, I’m ashamed. And I’m angry. I’m also proud that one man recently decided to protest these injustices by protesting at least the symbol of what our country is supposed to stand for. Our soldiers serve to give everyone the right to peacefully protest in the manner that suits them, not one that suits the majority or one that the majority finds least offensive. No one has the right to tell us when and where and how we choose to protest our government. And don’t you dare tell me that I am less of a patriot because I dare to stand up to a government that is slowly but ever so surely becoming corrupt.

[ctt template=”8″ link=”bPYfp” via=”yes” ]No one has the right to tell us when and where and how we choose to protest our government.[/ctt]

The historian and playwright, Howard Zinn, (who served during the second world war) said that “there is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” Many innocent people are dying and the shame belongs to each of us. Perhaps that is why I feel I must speak out.