Facts and Opinions

What, to the American Slave, is your Fourth of July?

There are countless pictures of me taken on the Fourth of July. They’re probably somewhere in the attic buried under old blankets and clothes that I can’t fit anymore. I’m standing in front of my house, holding a few American flags, the gap in my tooth looking bigger than I remembered it to be. Since I am naturally an “extra” person, I gave Uncle Sam a run for his money. I was covered in red, white, and blue. I was the human form of the American flag. At that age, I didn’t realize that the “holiday” that I was celebrating was not a representative of me or my people. Some call today, July 4th, Independence Day. I’ll give a brief history, but I’m pretty sure everyone knows it by now. If you’re American, it was shoved into our brains as soon as we started school.

July 2nd, 1776, the Congress voted in favor for independence from the British. Two days later, July 4th for those who can’t count, delegates from the thirteen colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Since then, people have been celebrating by firing up the grill and lighting up their fireworks. I cringe when I think about my star spangled ass running around the family barbecue. Now, it makes me cringe when I see people…my people…wearing red, white, and blue, wishing others a Happy Fourth. I just want to grab a hold of their shoulders and say, “THIS HOLIDAY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU!!! YOU KNOW THAT RIGHT!?!?!?”

On July 5th, statesmen, writer, orator, social reformist, and of course, abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, delivered one of his most known speeches to date, “What To The Slave Is The Fourth of July?” It goes as follows:

“What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?…

I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn…

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.”

Let me give a rough summation of what he’s saying; how the hell does this have anything to do with me and my people? This independence is for you white sons of guns and not me. I’m sure Mr. Douglass’s explanation would be a lot more complex, but hopefully now you get the picture if you didn’t take the time to read all of Frederick Douglass’s speech. Let’s think about the current problems that are taking place today. The government is literally losing children in their custody; separating them from their families and having them lay on tin foil to keep warm. I mean you see it all over your Twitter feed, it’s not like it isn’t happening. They are literally in cages. Black people are still being shot down like it’s deer season. People are still being denied basic human rights. Black people and people of color are still looked at as second class citizens. Black people were not freed until 1865, and even after that, we are still being degraded due to our looks, but it seems like every little white girl from California is trying to tan as much as possible to get that bronze look, and plumping their lips up with filler.

I’ve kind of strayed from the topic at had a little bit, but all I’m saying is that my fellow black people! This day is not for us. We aren’t celebrating our freedom, we are reveling in our enslavement. The day has passed, but if you want to celebrate “freedom,” celebrate Juneteeth (June 19th). June 19th, 1965 was the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas, as well as the emancipation of slavery through the confederate states of America. That day is also my birthday, so I especially hold that day near and dear to my heart. There are so many people who share the same skin tone as me who saw this past June 19th as just a regular day.

How can we celebrate the Fourth of July when the freedom does not cross over to us? Like Frederick Douglass said, we have nothing to do with your independence. So when you’re igniting sparklers and waving American flags around, stop for a minute and gaze into that red, white and blue…does this really represent me?

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Facts and Opinions

To Kill A Mockingbird Come to Life: The Central Park Five

WARNING: I GET MAD AS HELL IN THIS POST AND KIND OF GO ALL OVER THE PLACE

 

My younger brother is about to turn seventeen in July. He is 5’6, has this beautiful mocha skin tone, a full fledged beard, and the biggest heart. He truly is the sweetest kid I’ve ever known. He is damn near good at everything he decides to invest his time in. He can play the guitar in a few months better than some can in decades. He is a genius when it comes to math…and then there’s his sister, who gets confused adding 2+2 (I think the answer is 4). He can spend his whole day on the computer, creating virtual realities. He runs track, and he’s fast too. He is one of the smartest and most talented people I have ever met. I am very blessed to call him my brother.

My brother also is one of the most innocent people I have ever come across. He really doesn’t mean any harm by anything he does. He thinks that everyone in the world is good, and although I believe that everyone CAN be good, sometimes people don’t like to go that route. My brother looks like a grown man. He has a stern face and muscular build. The color of his skin represents the history that has flowed through our family for decades. It’s the skin color that my Father has, and that his Father had. When I look at my brother, I see hope. I see love. I see the future. I see a young man who doesn’t care what anyone says because he is genuinely, authentically him. I wish I had that confidence. But when “they” see him…when “they” see him…they don’t see any of that.

When “they” see him they see contempt. They see a threat; a breach of safety. They see a criminal. That sweet kid that used to cry when butterflies would flutter around him is instantly seen as less than human. After contemplating whether I had the mental strength to go through something like this, I decided to watch When They See Us. This four part series is about the Central Park Five, five young men who were falsely accused of raping a woman back in 1989. (photo above left to right) Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise had their youth stolen from them because the New York Police Department wanted to focus on ruining their lives instead of actually focusing on the actual person who raped Patricia Meili, and murdered Lourdes Gonzalez prior to that attack. This series made me angry. The way that the trial went, the way that Linda Fairstein was so adamant on persecuting these young men. The fact that the evidence was a clear indication that they did NOT do it! The fact that they all had hopes and dreams, only to be shot down by being put behind those bars. This series made me grit my teeth in aggravation. This series made me bite back tears. (SPOILER) The scene where Korey (there are multiple spellings on the internet) receives a Chia Pet after wishing for one made me practically lose it. What that poor man endured I couldn’t even imagine; all of them.

Young black boys have been forced to grow up quickly in the eyes of the law. They’re seen as adults in elementary school. The preconceived notions that plague black boys, and black people in general are killing them because people are too stupid to realize that they are human beings too. I guarantee that if they were five white boys, their DNA would have been tested and immediately after they found out that nothing was a match, they would have back at home listening to their Walkman’s in their bedrooms. Let me remind you that NOTHING MATCHED THE DNA ON PATRICIA MEILI!!! There was no blood or skin on her that matched any of the boys. Nothing. They should have been able to go home right then and there. In a VladTV interview, Yusef Salaam says that the police were trying to plant some of the boy’s DNA on the crime scene. I believe they took Kevin and Korey to the scene of the crime. Korey is told by one of the officers that his shoe is untied. While trying to tie his shoe, one of the officers tries to make him fall over into the scene, attempting to collect evidence on him. 

Imagine the psychological damage that this has done to these men. Something as simple as going to Central Park with friends turns into seven to thirteen years in jail. Imagine being thrown in jail for something that you did not do; being ridiculed and isolated by family and friends because the justice system that is supposed to bring the truth to light is automatically treating you like the culprit all because your melanin is more apparent than most. What made me upset is Antron McCray’s Dad. Granted, his Father probably wasn’t properly told how to deal with the police, so I won’t completely blame him for practically leading his son astray, but the fact that he just started bowing out of his son’s life when things started to get rough in unacceptable to me. Then, as soon as Antron gets out, he has to basically repair that relationship that he has with his Father because now he doesn’t know how much time he has left with him. Antron probably felt betrayed by his Father. My own Dad is bailing out on me, your own flesh and blood; a person who helped give you life. A video by Calvin Michaels goes a little more in depth as to how that might have affected Antron, as well as the rest of the psychological trauma that these guys have been through.

You have people tuning into this case, judging your every move. These young men had their numbers and addresses revealed to the public. They were threatened; people wishing for their deaths as well as the deaths of their family members. People associated with these five were also ostracized, losing things like their social status, their jobs…and their sanity. Think about what they endured locked up. Being accused of rape and robbery is certainly not something that people take lightly. Think about how the man who took out $85,000 for an ad calling to reinstate the death penalty against these innocent young men is president; leader of the free world. On Twitter in the year of 2013, eleven years after these men were exonerated, Donald Trump was still blabbing about how the Central Park Five were guilty. Now if that isn’t blatant racism, I don’t know what is. Let them be little blonde haired blue eyed boys, he would have been saying something a little different; boys will be boys, or crap like that. Think about when they were freed. You think the psychological turmoil stopped there, oh no. The things that they went through probably haunt them to this day.

I want to focus a little bit more on Korey Wise. Each young man has all my respect, but Korey Wise…let me tell you something. The men were exonerated and given $40 million to divide, but Mr. Wise should have gotten $40 million just for himself. First off, he went down to the police station to support his friend Yusef. I know he didn’t expect things to turn out this way; none of them did. Because Wise was sixteen, he didn’t have to be accompanied by an adult, which gave the interrogator free reign to ask whatever he wanted, however he wanted. This young man already had a learning disability as well as hearing issues, so I honestly think that’s the reason why they gave it to him the worst. He was beaten up the most by the authorities, being physically hit and yelled at by detectives. He was tried as an adult at the age of sixteen and sent to Riker’s Island, the infamous prison in New York City. A sixteen year old kid in a world that he never should have experienced. He spent more than a decade in prison. He begged to be in solitary confinement. When you’re in solitary confinement, you have no outside interaction. Being in complete isolation for long periods of time can make you lose your mind. But would you rather stay completely hidden from most of society, or would you like to be targeted by other inmates and made to be their play thing? At a young age, Korey Wise had to make that decision. One thing that Calvin Michaels caught on to that I did as well in the movie is the police officer that was around before he asked for solitary; the one that would always say, “I’ll let you know if you can do something for me” or something like that. I think he was sexually abused, but since I don’t know for sure, I’ll just leave it at that. His sister was murdered while he was in prison too, we can’t forget about her (a wonderful performance by Isis King playing Marci Wise). Her being disrespected as a trans woman is one thing, but being killed crushed Korey. He wasn’t able to be there during her last days. As her brother, I’m sure that he was somewhat of a protector, and I hope he didn’t blame himself for what happened to her. Out of the settlement, Korey was given the highest amount of money at $12.2 million. 

Most of these men have children. The fear that they have for their sons is genuine and real because they have went through any man of color’s worst nightmare. I am not a licensed mental health professional yet, but I’m sure that these men still are affected by these incidents. PTSD from the violence that they were subjected to in prison, maybe anxiety and depression from the taunts that people threw at them. The mind doesn’t fully finish forming until your mid twenties, do you think that this helped a healthy brain development? Being told that you’re a monster? Being abused by the system?

It took me three days to try and sit through Ava Duvernay’s masterpiece, and I can honestly say that I am ashamed at the fact that I really didn’t know much about the Central Park Five. It’s crazy to think that this happened in 1989. Isn’t it insane that this situation could very well happen now? Isn’t it insane that black people are treated this way still in 2019? I am fearful for my brother. He takes the bus to and from school. It terrifies me thinking that one day I will hear that my brother is in jail, or that he was shot by a police officer because his cellphone fell out of his pocket. Like the end of the first episode states, “when will we be boys?” My brother has been told how to act around the police and warned about the dangers of the police ever since he was the age of four. Don’t wear that because you might be seen as a threat. Try to smile more because a police officer might find you threatening if you don’t. Just do what the police officer tells you. As soon as you’re pulled over, put your hands on the steering wheel and don’t move them. We don’t want you to get killed. School for my brother will be coming to a close soon, and I’m sure he will want to go out and see the sights that Chicago has to offer. I’m afraid that one day he’ll walk out of the house, only to never walk back in again. When will my brother just be seen as a boy? Has he ever been one?

Calvin Michael’s Video:

I highly recommend you watch it

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Self Care Saturday

My Guide to Journaling

Hello everyone! So this is my first post on Self Care Saturday! Woooo! Self Care Saturday is pretty self explanatory…I give you different ways of self care on every Saturday of the month (or at least a Saturday of the month).

Today, I’m taking you into one of my favorite self care past time…journaling! Oh how I love journaling. There is nothing more therapeutic than writing in my opinion. I actually have three of them that I carry everywhere. Each one serves a different purpose.

  • My yellow journal is for my day to day entries. I always date the page and write about what happened that day. I like to do this after I take my bath or shower and change into a clean pair of pajamas (or an overlarge t-shirt). I naturally have an overactive imagination, so when I am starting to get bored of my surroundings, I pull out my journal and write how I feel.
  • My pink journal is for my dreams, goals, prayers, and manifestations. When I’m feeling low, I like to open up this bad boy and envision myself in a more positive situation. I like to write out little scenarios that I hope will happen. For instance, I wrote one about strolling through the Louvre in France wearing a flowy white dress with my curls in full bloom like flowers in spring. Man I was really in my feelings that day, I tell you. It just let’s your mind run free to a happy place.
  • My black journal is for my short stories and poems. They don’t have to be a full fledged sonnet; sometimes they’re just little quips and ideas. When something pops into my head, I quickly jot it down. I can’t draw to save my life, but some of them have drawings and doodles on the pages, as well as little songs that I may create.

Now having three journals might be a little excessive, but for me it helps organize my thoughts. But when it’s your journal, you can do whatever you want with it. It can be as messy and cluttered as you want. It’s for you and your thoughts. I would say, when journaling…

  • Sometimes choosing the journal is important. This is something that you’re going to be writing in, have it be enticing. You should want to write in it. I bought my journals at Walmart, but they are so cute. They are Pen + Gear Five Subject Notebooks. I love that they have little tabs to divide different sections of the journal.
  • Write every day. Every day. Even if it’s just one sentence. I am sad. I am happy. Thank you God. Shoot, it can be one word if you want to. Just make sure you write something.
  • It’s okay to restart. I have journals that haven’t been finished. Sometimes the things in that journal don’t give off the energy that you expect. It’s okay to switch journals and start anew!
  • Be in tune with your feelings and emotions. Don’t hold back.

That concludes the first Self Care Saturday post! Hopefully, you find a journal and fill its pages with stories, hopes, and well wishes.

Happy journaling!!!!

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Journaling

Month Number One: A slight rant and 400 years

January is coming close to an end. The first day ushered in this new sense of hope and discovery for all of us. 2018 was a year of realization. It was like a gnat; buzzing around our ears and crowding our personal space. The lessons of 2018 are going to be the foundation of my 2019, and so far I am still going strong. Could it be because of the new year and its new wave of energy, or has nothing really changed? Maybe this new feeling of purpose and confidence is some sort of placebo. Am I still the same person now that I was in 2018? Some of the voices in my head (true Gemini lol) tell me these things off and on, and I try not to succumb. If I really think about it, all of my manifestations for the first month of the year are slowly but surely coming into fruition, and I think that has a lot to do with myself, as well as the beginning of a new year.
I wanted to briefly talk about an article on The Root that I happened to come across while scrolling through the internet one day. The first person of African descent set foot on America’s soil in the year 1619. Ever since then, black people have had a treacherous experience here. We are seen as foreign objects that do not belong; the “other.” Our skin is discriminated against, as well as our hair, body types, and culture…but it’s always copied. Like I stated in a Facebook post a few days ago, we are the culture, we just never get the credit. I just thought that is was kind of interesting. This 400 years of slavery (even though slavery was abolished in 1865) may have brought some sort of curse. We might not be picking cotton in fields and being beaten with whips, but we are still slaves to systematic oppression as well as archaic ideologies of how black people should be. Jim Crow kind of still exists you know? It just manifests itself in various ways throughout the years. The 400 years trope comes from the bible. In Genesis 15:13, it says, “Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there (New International Version).” Sounds familiar doesn’t it? If you add 400 to 1619, what do you get? I know I’m not an aficionado in mathematics, but if my calculator is correct, you get 2019!
2019 is the 400th year. Has the curse been lifted? I can say as a minority in America that my experiences here have not been peachy keen. I mean, a bit of my self loathing as a child came from the fact that I did not resemble my Caucasian counterparts. Going to college in a town that is more than 90% white lets me know some days that I am not accepted in some communities. This, however, has only made me stronger as an individual and prouder of my blackness. People are so pressed that I exist, like…keep hating boo. 2018 had made me come face to face with myself. People will not always like me just by looking at me, and I can’t let that affect me. We as people can work together as a collective to strengthen our community, but we must first acknowledge the beauty and power in ourselves individually…and there’s an abundance of it. Do you know how important you are? How much you’ve endured? How much your ancestors have gone through? Your looks are envied by others. Your history is rich and full. Black people…that is all in you! It’s in me! And 2018 has made me aware that I am a blessing and I should think of myself as such. That might sound a little vain, but you are a blessing. You could be six feet deep in the ground. Every day that you live is a blessing.
I have a tendency to get rather preachy with these posts when I’m passionate. My main focus for this post is to say that we must break the curse that we held in ourselves, and that’s with changing our habits and thoughts. I need to plan out my thoughts; my mind goes a mile a minute. This month I have made an effort to better myself, and I will continue to do the same in February. I prayed and manifested for more experience in the career that I want to be in, and I was promoted to a higher position. I’ve had people from my past come and contact me, trying to slither their way back into my life…and I ignored their advances. My worth is much more important than a brief stint of attention. I’ve accepted the fact that I cannot change what has happened in the past, and can only move forward. I’ve accepted my face and the way it kind of hangs to the right. I’ve accepted my little round nose and full cheeks, as well my gap teeth (which I’m proud of). I’ve practiced self-care by keeping to myself when I need to. It’s okay to say no to hanging out. It’s good to spend time with myself and get to know myself even more. She loves overly feminine stuff. She likes perfume and getting her nails done and fashion. She loves to read and write and engage in her own little world. She’s introverted…but nowhere near antisocial. She is delicate, but durable.
I have taken steps toward keeping my peace. I’ve moved mountains this past month. I’ve spoken my truth and expressed my feelings thoroughly. I’ve come to terms with past mistakes that I have made, as well as acknowledge what I did to get into that situation in the first place. The groundwork has been laid, and I need to follow what I’ve laid. I’ve learned not to be as trusting as I have been in the past, and not tolerate the things that I have previously. I just feel chains falling and my head lifting. I just have a good feeling about 2019, even though we have had some major mishaps happen already (thank you Trump). I can only control myself, and I am trying my very best to not fall back and remain the way I used to be. I am slowly evolving, and I can see the progress.
In a few hours it will be February, which is the perfect month to talk about self-love. I want to tie self love in the black community, because I know that us as people are conditioned to think that our beauty is lesser than. I am beautiful. I am beautiful because I am black. I am beautiful because of my history, good and bad. I am beautiful because I am continuously growing and changing. I’m beautiful because I am finally realizing my worth. I am just beautiful….PERIOD!

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Poetry

In Me

Do you see beauty in me?

In Oklahoma

Seminole

Sunshine’s smooch

Mother Nature’s soul

Brown sugar

Emerald green

The hues inside my skin

The orange-ish reddish undertones

My moonshine distilled lips

Family

Grown in Jackson

Born Biloxi

Build them healthy

Cornbread

Collard greens

History

Chitlin circuit

Wrinkled hands

Do tell their take

But haven’t sold my legacy

Cracklin’ oil

Pops strumming

Guitar groans

Intertwine the tone that comes along

Through the Louisiana bayou

Your past lies too

No handwritten

Spoken fiction

Uptown heartbreak

Rhythmic lymphnodes

Teach me the code

Reach coast to coast

Your sister’s stories

Your mother’s prayers

Crest fallen goals

That I will break

And carry on

Let me add my verse

To the song

To the hymn

I’ll make it my own

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Facts and Opinions

Nike Up in Flames: Wasting Money in Protest of Preserving Lives

The company Nike is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. For thirty years, we’ve been lacing up their sneakers, pulling up their jogging shorts, and dressing ourselves up in the apparel and using the products of the brand. I have a pair of their gym shoes in my closet right now, as well as a pair of Nike sweatpants that I love to change into after a hard day of classes. Thirty years is a big accomplishment, so of course Nike wanted to do something special for this anniversary. What else than to do a campaign to commemorate the business being in existence for so long? Usually with a campaign, there’s always a face. Someone to represent the brand and all that it stands for. I don’t know anything about sports, but I know that there are countless sports players Nike could have chosen. Lebron James; arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. They could have gotten Laker’s wonder boy Lonzo Ball, or Lord forbid his Father. They could have gotten really anyone who has made news this year, but who would be appropriate to ring in Nike’s thirtieth year?

On Monday afternoon, former San Francisco 49er’s player Colin Kaepernick posted on his Twitter the ad that started a whirlwind of controversy, as if Kaepernick hasn’t had enough of it already. Nike had chosen him to be the face of the campaign.

fine ass woke ass brotha

“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” is displayed in white words in front of a black and white image of Kaepernick gazing into the audience’s eyes. The picture is simple, and so is the quote. This quote is very compatible with what Colin is about.

In August 2016, Kaepernick was seen sitting down during the National Anthem. After being asked why he did what he did, he states, ” I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Even after that incident, the NFL released a statement recognizing that not all people want to participate in the National Anthem, and have the right not to. Kaepernick sitting out during the National Anthem, turned into him kneeling to show respect for the people of color who have fought and died for this country. He didn’t even have to do that! This began a grand controversy. Kaepernick continued to take a knee, and people began to impose their opinion on the situation.

More athletes began to follow suit, showing their support for Kaepernick’s plea, as well as what he stands for. During the National Anthem, Kaepernick’s former teammate Eric Reid joined him in his September 1st. Former Seattle Seahawk player Jeremy Lane sits out while everyone else stood for the Star Spangled Banner. From then on, other football players, basketball players, soccer players, even cheerleaders protested in solidarity with Kaepernick. It quickly spread to other walks of life. Students in marching bands were kneeling. Children would stay seated during the National Anthem when they would recite it in their schools. I went to a city school board meeting in the city of Charleston, Illinois, and when everyone stood for the National Anthem, I sat down and stared right at the mayor of the city. Savagery, right? I know, but this isn’t about me. With the support that was given to Kaepernick, the backlash was just as fast, if not more swift.

As of now, people are grabbing their Nike apparel and burning them. Literally igniting a fire on them. A video that I saw was of a man spraying lighter fluid on his white and black Nike sneakers and setting them ablaze. People are destroying their merchandise to try and stick it to Nike and Colin Kaepernick. Now, is Nike the most unproblematic company out there…no, but complaining over who they chose as the face of their 30th anniversary campaign really isn’t as important as people claim it is. I’ve been scrolling through my Twitter feed, and there is a mix of support and contempt. I was able to catch Trump’s Twitter comment, claiming that the stock and sales in Nike were dropping just like the ratings of the NFL.

Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!
8:39 AM – Sep 5, 2018

Donald J. Trump
@realDonaldTrump

If you can’t tell, Trump is not a big fan of Colin Kaepernick. I mean, he’s not a fan of people of color period, but he really has a problem with people who are against his policies. Trump, I will say, had a point. Nike shares were down about three percent Tuesday, but they are back up again today. With the numbers being shown, his WAY DOWN implication was highly exaggerated. So, as you may guess, Trump’s followers were not so happy with Colin’s stance either. And so Trump and his army spewed hatred and filth towards Colin, the NFL, any person who has kneeled to protest gun violence and police brutality, and anyone who agrees and stands with what Colin is doing. The main reason why people are upset with kneeling during the National Anthem is because they feel that it disrespects America, the people who fought for the country, and freedom, because that’s what America is supposed to be…the land of the free (that can be said easier for certain demographics more than others). In my opinion, that is further from the truth.

My Dad was a U.S Military Captain. He served in the military ever since he was eighteen years old. He was drafted in the Iraq-Afghanistan War and was stationed over there for three years. As a black man in America, my Dad has been pulled over the color of his skin. He’s been pulled over because he drives a Cadillac Escalade and, well, I guess black people can’t have those huh? He’s been spit on and called nigger and was told to go back to Africa by racists as he walked through certain areas of Illinois. But my Dad, an army veteran, and many other people’s family members, fought for the right for you to be able to stand during the National Anthem, but they also fought for the right to kneel. America is so free right, why aren’t people free to kneel? Kneeling not only respects someone like my Father and the brave, heroic efforts that he has made, but to acknowledge the fact that as a black man in America that American flag at first did not represent you, and until people of color are treated like human beings, it still doesn’t. That flag represents slavery. “That flag represents the pain and the turmoil that people of color have faced and will continue to face. American history for people of color hasn’t been that great to us. I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America. And to the Republic, for which it stands. One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Liberty and justice for all huh? That’s a stretch. Was there liberty and justice for Trayvon Martin, or Eric Garner, or Freddie Gray, or Sandra Bland, or Aiyana Jones, or Tamir Rice, or all the other countless black and brown people in America who have been gunned down, attacked, or penalized for being people.

Let’s go over the Star Spangled Banner quickly shall we. Everyone knows (or thinks they know) the first part: oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, so on and so forth. Everyone usually recites the first stanza, but there are actually three more. I want to focus on the third stanza more so:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

First of all, Francis Scott Key (the writer of The National Anthem) was a defender of slavery. Let’s just put that out there. Slaves? Loved them, or having them I should say. He believed that black people were “inferior” and were untrustworthy. He was an attorney, and overthrew many cases created by abolitionists. You can read right there in the stanza posted above. “No refuge could save the hireling and slave, from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” When I read that part, the thought that no matter what any slave does, they are going to die. They cannot be saved. Dr. Jason Johnson, a MSNBC contributor and The Root writer and political editor, confirmed my suspicion. In his Root article Star Spangled Bigotry: The Hidden Racist History of the National Anthem. With this article, he exposes Francis Scott Key and his background and his beliefs. He was opposed to the Colonial Marines, a battalion of runaway slaves who joined the British Royal Army in exchange for freedom. At the Battle of Bladenburg, Key’s was serving as a lieutenant. When him as his troops ran into a group of Colonial Marines, they were taken to a woodshed. He ran back home to Georgetown. The British troops then began to burn the Library of Congress, the Capitol Building and the White House. Key was not happy. Weeks later, in September of 1815, Key was on a British ship pleading for his friend, William Beanes, to be released. While on this boat, he was able to witness the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore. This is when the third stanza of the Star Spangled Banner was written. This stanza is basically threatening the former black slaves that were with the British army in exchange for their freedom. The National Anthem never counted people of color.

To summarize basically everything I said in this article, burning your shoes, cutting the checks out of your shorts and throwing away your Nike water bottles won’t really do much. Nike knows what they’re doing with choosing Colin Kaepernick. Him and his protest are making a lot of prejudice and racist people uncomfortable, and this new campaign is definitely adding fuel to the fire.

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