I thought I was done writing about race relations and protests against our National Anthem, at least for a while, but this past month I’ve seen and read so much misleading information, on those hot button topics; therefore, I’d like to set the record straight. We keep hearing over and over how America is divided: politically divided and racially divided. I agree that currently our nation is somewhat politically polarized; however, it’s always been that way especially during general elections. If that were not the case then every candidate would receive 100% of the vote – 100% of the time. I adamantly disagree though with those who spout that this country is racially divided. I think many times the word divided falsely implies an equal split, or in this case it fosters a message of Blacks versus Whites. I think in actuality there’s only a small percentage of Black citizens who truly believe they’re purposely being oppressed by Whites due to the color of their skin…although they seem to have the loudest voices.
A select few from the Black community, a select few from the White community (yearning to be politically correct I assume), and the majority of mainstream media are responsible for creating this mirage of racial divide we’re experiencing today. It certainly doesn’t help race relations when renowned talk show host, Tavis Smiley, tells his national audience, “There’s no doubt about the fact that America owes Black folk a debt that it can never repay. Period. Point blank. No debate with me about that.”
Well, I guess that’s that. Case closed. There’s nothing else to say on the subject. Not! Smiley made his “non-debatable” statement (Sept. 12th, 2016) while interviewing “Reparations” website founder, Natasha Marin, who was there promoting her Facebook group which is intended to explore “white privilege” and provides aid to minorities in need. “Reparations” is similar to the GoFundMe website and encourages people to donate either their time, talents, or money to others in need. Marin’s website allows White people to give, but only minorities can receive.
Similar to Tavis Smiley, Deion Sanders recently took advantage of his profession, as a television sports analyst, to speak out on race relations. The National Football League (NFL) Hall of Famer used his air time last week as a bully pulpit to voice his support of Collin Kaepernick’s decision to bring attention to “Black oppression” in the United States. The mediocre quarterback protests his country by not standing during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Sanders proposed that the increase in sales of the player’s jerseys was proof that many fans must agree with his stance. Either “Prime Time” doesn’t realize why so many of the jerseys have been sold, or he’s intentionally omitting some pertinent information to make his claim appear more plausible. I presume the increase in sales of Kaepernick jerseys are in large part due to them being used for patriotic ceremonial burnings and other anti-protest protests. I know of at least one sports bar that’s using the jersey as a welcome mat.
When a select few from the White community hop on the political correctness train then the rest of us are prompted to get on board as well. When both Blacks and Whites promote the manufactured mirage then their way of thinking appears more credible to the public. I was disappointed to see our local sports columnist, Dan Bickley, lobbying for the train conductor’s position. The White reporter called out White former athletes and coaches, who opposed Kaepernick’s actions, in his weekly column for The Arizona Republic (Sept. 24th, 2016). Bickley begins his article by telling his readers that much of the criticism surrounding Collin Kaepernick is “steeped in ignorance.” He condemns Trent Dilfer, former quarterback and current ESPN analyst, for saying, “A backup quarterback should know his place and shut his mouth.” He criticizes Hall of Fame player and coach, Mike Ditka, for stating, “Anybody who disrespects this country and the flag, if they don’t like our flag, then get the hell out.” Bickley said Mike Ditka’s advice “sounded like what you might expect from someone who is old, wealthy and out of touch.”
The columnist placed legendary baseball manager, Tony La Russa, in the same category as Ditka. He took the current Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer to task for saying, “If you play for the Diamondbacks, you are representing a team, a culture and a brand.” La Russa noted that if any of his players wanted to protest the National Anthem they could do so simply by remaining in the clubhouse until the song was finished. Well, call me an old, ignorant, out of touch White guy because I totally agree. I found a couple lines from Dan Bickley’s column to be a bit humorous and quite ironic. The sportswriter seems troubled as he declares, “Sports are supposed to heal, not divide. They are not supposed to play out along racial lines.” Does he not understand Kaepernick is to blame for the division (at least any division in the NFL)?
It’s bad enough when people are allowed to use their words (and get paid) to cause division and to alienate others, but I think it’s worse when those same type of people attempt to silence any opposing view. For instance, last month (Sept. 13th, 2016) Lil Wayne, while appearing on the TV show Undisputed, was asked what he thought about the heavily publicized National Anthem protests. The famous Black entrepreneur and Hip Hop recording artist hesitantly answered, “I don’t want to be bashed, because I don’t want to seem like I’m on the wrong side.” It’s unfortunate when a select few can make the rest of us feel as though we’re being prodded to choose the “right side” when expressing our opinions.
Lil Wayne went on to say, “I have never…never is a strong word. I have never, never dealt with racism, and I’m glad I didn’t have to. I don’t know if it’s because of my blessings, but it is my reality.” “Weezy” then mentioned his fan base is predominantly White, and his younger generations of fans thinks racism is “not cool.” The Hip Hop artist also told of a time when a White cop saved his life. Lil Wayne did not get his wish because he was bashed by some in the Black community, for taking the “wrong side,” immediately after his appearance on Undisputed.
And there it is. With all the nonsense making the headlines lately it usually comes down to taking sides (or so we’re being told). Sometimes it seems like I’m the only one not buying what the media is selling. The recent police shootings of Black men are being chalked up to blatant racism, or at the very least an unconscious racial bias, but I think the majority of police shootings are justifiable and have absolutely nothing to do with race. The fact is nearly every shooting has involved resistance to authority. Say what you will about Donald Trump, but I find his position of promoting law and order, and his fondness for America’s law enforcement, refreshing.
I’m reminded of a quote I just heard while watching a Blue Bloods rerun. Police Commissioner Reagan, played brilliantly by Tom Selleck, is reminding his police officer son that he cannot hesitate while on the job. The concerned father then says, “Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.” I think part of being a good cop is being able to make the spontaneous, tough decisions that allows an officer to go home to his loved ones at the end of the day. The clever quote is sound advice for the person being questioned as well. If we’re honest with ourselves – I mean truly honest – we’d be forced to admit that the number of shootings of Black men by White police officers are minute in comparison to the number of interactions our law enforcement agencies have with the public day in and day out. However, you’ll never hear that coming from the mouths of our trusted journalists.
The media needs us to be polarized. If there’s no conflict – no side to take – no David vs. Goliath – then there is no story. The media depends upon conflicts of interest, division amongst people, and stories about conquering giants (even if sometimes they’re fabricated) to stay in business. I imagine we’ll continue hearing about Black oppression as long as someone somewhere believes it to be true, and the media continues to provoke the illusion. I for one am not convinced Black oppression exists. Some racism still exists, and it goes both ways, but I find it difficult to believe that a Black man could be elected (twice) as President of the United States if Black oppression was real. Slavery is a thing of the past (rightfully so), and we now have laws securely in place to assure equality amongst all legal citizens regardless of their race. There…now I’m done.