5 Ways the NFL Protest is Forcing America to Evolve

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When it comes to the NFL protest it is becoming clear opinions on whether its disrespectful or courageous simply illustrate one’s stance on the authenticity of justice. At its core the protest is simply humanity crying out for dignity and may prove to be a watershed moment in the evolution of the American social contract.

The body of evidence illustrating the disparity in unarmed police shootings shows a 3.5 times likelihood if the citizen is black. This isn’t hyperbole but facts. The protest pushback suggesting people of color should be ok with this fact is beyond comprehension. The police generated chasm in trust is not limited to shootings however. Being stopped and having one’s dignity assaulted for most people of color feels like socially acceptable rape. These engagements often leave victims with long term emotional and physiological effects. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics African Americans are;
31% more likely to be pulled over
7 times more likely to be searched, and
30% more likely to be ticketed
Yet white motorists are 49% more likely than African American motorists to have contraband discovered during a search.

A Stanford psychologist; Jennifer Eberhardt led a team of linguists and computer scientists to analyze the words officers used during stops and found people of color 61% more likely to experience an exchange that fell into the category of least respectful. Police demand compliance even when they lack the legal authority to do so. They often feel free-speech as being disrespectful and innocent movement as threatening.

If the government (POTUS 45), private business (The NFL) and the public at large work in sync to ensure the punishment of someone who kneels are we truly the land of the free? When 45 charged before a snarling crowd to “fire the son-of-a-bitch” as president he spoke with the influential power of the highest office in the land in clear violation of the first amendment, where symbolic speech is absolutely protected.

The 1st way the protest is forcing America to evolve is to force an unflinching look at how committed are we to freedom when it comes to marginalized communities. Today’s protest cannot be ignored because one; its planted right smack in the middle of the nation’s most Americana activity, two; it raises the volume every week with additional kneelers and three, it challenges institutionalized racism as players push back against owners and by taking back the talking points from media outlets attempting to hijack the moment to make the protests about disrespecting our military and first responders.

One of the bravest acts one can engage in is to place their livelihood at risk. In Colin Kaepernick’s case he may never see the inside of a NFL huddle again. Although financially, he appears to be doing ok protestors who follow behind him do so with a clear understanding of the potential losses.

The reality is wouldn’t it be a more accurate reflection of American values if the national response to Colin’s protest would have been to treat him with dignity? To look at the topic in which he was trying to bring attention to; police violence and say, yeah, we can do better? But we know that’s just not how societies evolve. In most cases those who benefit from the societal norms of white privilege typically respond in all manner of dysfunctional ways up to and including death threats.

The last line in the national anthem is “The Home of the Brave.” Colin and others are emblematic of this stanza. Taking a knee is a position of honor, it humbles yourself before the audience and points to a very heart-filled and heavy consideration, be that to connect with the innocence of a child, a moment to listen and consider or the remembrance of a fallen soldiers; a fallen soldier who died for the freedoms these symbols represent.

The 2nd way America is being forced to evolve is to recognize the dignity of the protestors who despite having to whether all manner of hate, ridicule an rebranding remain steadfast in their stand for dignity.

Just to be clear the variety push back to this protest are steeped in institutionalized racism. Because they come from people who thoughts on race have been nurtured and unchecked by those who benefit from the current system. People who do not question their perspective when they paint these athletes as spoiled brats who should be grateful for having been given an opportunity to play this sport and become wealthy is the problem. First understand these players weren’t “given” anything. They earned their keep having dedicated a decade or more of their life, place their body and mind under great risk and beat out thousands of others. The notion that somehow, players owe homage to Red blooded Americans is offensive. This pushback stance implies that the speaker is the “real American” who has overseer power and a patriotic loftiness these athletic ingrates lack the aptitude to achieve.

The 3rd evolutionary moment is the opportunity to address white fragility. What do you call someone who stands for the symbols of freedom but not for freedom herself? The answer, fragile. It is clinging to the social construct of white exceptionalism because imagining a world without the disparities of institutional racism is too scary. Having said that we should be encouraged that there is plenty of evidence that many citizens from all walks of life are on the correct side of history.

Some would call police brutality a complex issue. It is not. It is simple. Police brutality is used as a method to keep a population in compliance with an expected social norm laid out by those in power for the express means of managing wealth and power. It is that simple and so is the remedy.

Accountability for a simple expectation of professionalism in the preservation of dignity in all police/citizen interactions. That’s it. For example, our soldiers who operate under the most violent scenarios where people are trying to kill them are trained to keep their head and poise and professionalism. If we can achieve this level of professionalism in a combat zone can’t in an urban zone? At a traffic stop? In all police interactions no matter that state of the citizen or suspect?

The 4th evolutionary moment is to recognize what this moment means to the rise of dignity and to embrace it. It should be normal to expect bully coping, panic policing and ego arrests to be removed from police conduct and that unarmed shootings to never occur.

When the forefathers of this great nation put forth the constitution they did so to ensure the gradual realization of the ultimate truth of freedom. Would American values still be filled with honor if we have a flag but not the right to protest? Would it still be American values if we had the national anthem and made it compulsory for everybody to adhere to it? Compulsive adherence to the symbolisms is not democracy it is nationalism

It’s not by mistake that the moment where technology has expanded the human mind to understand great revelations into the workings of the universe as well as the infinitesimally small universe within each us, when virtually all natural and man-made ecosystems are crumbling around us that we are being called out to step up our game. Breakdown always proceeds a breakthrough.

For those who care to see we know racism is a ubiquitous part of Americana. So much so that when people protest racism the fragile think we are protesting America. Colin Kaepernick, his supporters and all people of consciousness have swung the doors wide open for all citizens to take a giant leap forward into the best version of ourselves.

The 5th way the kneeling protest is forcing America to evolve is to rid ourselves of our two-tiered policing system and demand an authentic, inclusive and dignified social order for all citizens. Moving forward we need only understand we are defined by our courage.

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