When Colin Kaepernick first made the brave, unprecedented decision to protest against police brutality and institutional racism during the national anthem of NFL games, history and legacy locked horns in a battle over fact and perception.
What is it to be technically free, yet still forced to live in a state of hyper-alertness and fear in America?
Though there are certainly many ways to answer this query, no one is more qualified to answer the question than the descendants of West African slaves who can trace their lineage back through the centuries.
The land of the free and the home of the brave is a phrase that has always been viewed as extreme hyperbole as far as many are concerned. Freedom is broken down by some as striving to have a free dome. In other words, a mind free of the pain and visceral disrespect that has been Americas single most prevalent attribute from the perspective of many minority and ethnic groups looking to garner true freedom, justice and equality.
Nearly three-quarters of American voters say that race relations in the United States are “bad”, worse now than in the 1990s after the O.J. Simpson verdict and the L.A. riots.
How can a society that most of the world still considers the bastion of liberty be the modern incarnation of Babylon to others? Legacy, not perspective or history, is the reason why.
History is the study of past events and is decided upon by institutions that were created to maintain a societal view that largely celebrates itself and not truth, despite the facade of objectivity. Perspective doesnt carry any of the burden of objectivity and is largely dependent upon cultural norms and agreed upon truths that may or may not be actual fact.
But legacy is the true measure of reality. Even if we did not have books and historic records, legacy can still be traced. Like gravity is a static force of nature throughout all of existence, legacy touches us all.
The facts say that police departments have a legacy of prejudice against black folks since slave catcher patrols were incorporated as a municipal institution in 1704.
The truth also says that the familiar sheriffs badge star-shape utilized today is almost identical to those first used by slave patrols back then. Legacy says that todays institutional racism in law enforcement would not exist without their slave catching forefathers. There would not be one without the other. Just as their could not be any Jim Crow without slavery.
As previously stated, perspective is warped and sometimes perverted by culture. Culture includes language, arts, education, religion and, more so in the United States than perhaps any other nation in history, methods of entertainment.
President Trump’s comments sparked a backlash among Democrats, and several Republicans, for failing to single out the white nationalists who organized the rally in Charlottesville.
From an educational perspective, America likes to pretend that white supremacy and racism as national policy can somehow be spliced away from the fairy tale version of history that says black slaves were better off in America than in their respective homelands, that said slave masters were altruistic and kind-hearted and that American meritocracy would eventually give the descendants of the disenfranchised the ability to lift themselves out of targeted institutional racism with hard work and perseverance.
From the Black perspective, having had family members that survived slavery, Jim Crow and the War on Drugs, it is an insult of extreme proportions to say a people who once worked for free, and currently work for two-thirds the money of their white male counterparts, isnt trying hard enough or is somehow completely responsible for the current state of black neighborhoods, the abject failure of public schools and the proliferation of guns, drugs and gangs. Yet, the mainstream perspective says otherwise.
No mention of how the government sponsored practice of red-lining black neighborhoods prevented black entrepreneurs from obtaining housing and business loans to invest in their communities, thus becoming wholly dependent on white investment for growth.
The white supremacy perspective says that black folks are somehow inept, no mention of secretly racist pubic school administrators siphoning off resources, no mention of the abject failure of municipal and federal law enforcement in preventing the steady stream of drugs into the country.
From the perspective of the white supremacist, everything bad that has ever happened to black people was due to some moral, mental or spiritual flaw, and they also believe everything good was due to the altruism of white people.
When the people of Ferguson, Missouri, as well as like-minded allies from across the country, took to the streets in the aftermath of the murder of Mike Brown, white conservative perspective said that these acts were un-American and the protesters were socialist thugs. Terror attacks involving nonwhites are called out almost immediately.
On Friday, 500 White Nationalists descended upon Charlottesville on the University of Virginia campus. It looked like the mob scene from a Frankenstein movie; tiki torches in hand, faces distorted with rage, hateful chants, rants and violence ruled the day.
In true Donald Trump fashion, the President of the United States refused to call out those responsible for what, for all intents and purposes, was a race riot.
Stephen A. Smith hopes that the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend will open the eyes of NFL owners to what Colin Kaepernick stands for.
For some, perspective and culture says that Colin Kaepernick is a troublemaker looking to besmirch the greatest country in the world. Yet he didnt strike anyone nor suggest that violence is the remedy for white supremacist oppression in America.
Perspective, culture and truth collide once again. The truth says that Nazis and skinheads make up a greater portion of the American mainstream than perspective and culture will allow us to admit. The truth is that the American experiment has been a bastion of race-based, pro-white politics from its inception.