Tag Archives: National Anthem

I Thought I Was Done

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.


Why I Write

I’ve written more than 100 blogs since acquiring my lifewithtruthandcommonsense.com blog site two and a half years ago. That’s well over 100,000 words I’ve put from pen to paper – then paper to laptop – typing one letter at a time – with only one finger…my right index finger to be exact. I’ve written on many subjects including the two no no’s: politics and religion. I’ve been an open book in regards to my thoughts on controversial issues, hot topics, and life in general. It hasn’t always been that easy either.

Someone once said, “writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.” I watched an interview last year with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Don Henley, and he was discussing the art of writing with Charlie Rose, the show’s host. The famed musician and Eagles co-founder said, in essence, that having an epiphany or a great idea is easy, but translating them into written form is difficult. I can attest to that. Everything I’ve posted on my blog site has been a challenging labor of love. So then…why do I write?

I mainly write to prevent my head from exploding. I have difficulty ridding my mind of my multiple thoughts until they’re written down. I just can’t seem to completely move forward with my life knowing I’ve left some unwritten thoughts behind. I feel as though I’m incapable of retaining any new material unless I let some of the old stuff go. I guess I’m one of those who needs closure. I’ve heard that humans use only about 10% of their brains, so I’m sure there’s plenty more space available in my noggin, but I’m not willing to take a chance.

I also write to leave behind evidence that I once existed (in case anyone in the future is interested). I certainly wish I knew more about my heritage…more about my great grandparents…more about my grandparents…and even more about my still living parents. Some people are just more aloof than others and unwilling to share much of themselves, even with their family, and that’s okay. However, I don’t mind at all if people want to get to know the core of my being. In fact, I prefer my relatives know who I was and what I was about. I at least want future generations to have the option of knowing.

I write to remember, reflect, and reminisce about the good old days. So many memories are precious, and sometimes that’s all we’ve got. I put pen to paper because I enjoy the process. There’s nothing like penning my thoughts at 4:45am while sipping on a Starbucks coffee. To me, writing is akin to taking a seedling of a thought or an idea and nurturing it until it blossoms into a bouquet of words worth reading. I write because of the satisfaction I get when seeing the end result of my toil emanating from the computer screen.

I also write so my voice can be heard (even if I’m the only one listening). In case you’re unaware, I tend to have an opinion about everything. I read the Sunday newspaper and watch the local newscasts, and I’ve noticed journalists and reporters alike (whether intentionally or not) usually miss the real story. I write what I think, no holds barred, and what I think others really need to hear. I write because of my desire to be part of the discussion.

I write publically to examine, to explore, and to even sometimes entertain someone’s unorthodox behavior that has already been made public. For example, by now everyone and their mother knows about Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the playing of our National Anthem. The reason given by the San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback, for his defiance, was that he wanted to call attention to what he perceives as failed race relations in this country. The disgruntled Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” I expect more patriotism and less oppression drivel from a biracial (raised by White parents) millionaire football player.

The primary discussion seems to be whether or not the mediocre quarterback has the right to turn his back on the American flag (and this nation). Unfortunately, he does. In this country – the land of the free – a person even has the right, if so inclined, to set fire to the Stars and Stripes for crying out loud. I think an American athlete not standing with his teammates (and everyone else in the stadium) while “The Star-Spangled Banner” is being played is like not brushing your teeth before going to the dentist: It might not be the law, but it’s certainly expected.

The National Football League’s response to this matter was to immediately issue a statement which said, “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.” I highly recommend the NFL adjust its laissez-faire attitude concerning the time-honored pregame ritual. The League OWNS its players. That may sound a bit harsh, but it’s absolutely true. Every NFL player must conform to a strictly imposed way of life, both on and off the field, or risk being fined, suspended, or even terminated from the League.

Players are not allowed to promote any charities (unless sanctioned by the League) while inside a National Football League stadium. They cannot alter their uniforms in any fashion whatsoever, and their conduct is heavily monitored throughout the entire game. The players don’t even have a say as to what brand of cleats are attached to their feet. Therefore, I would think adopting a new, more respectful policy, regarding what’s acceptable during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” isn’t too much to ask of the mighty NFL.

And there you have it. My mind has been cleared of the whole Colin Kaepernick situation. I now have some space in my noggin for another seedling of a thought.