If you live anywhere other than under a rock you probably know all about the NFL players peacefully protesting racism by taking a knee during the national anthem. You may have also noticed that this has some white dudes seriously pissed off. They’re beefing about it on social media, refusing to watch NFL games and some are even going as far as to burn their season tickets or certain players’ jerseys. They’re protesting the protesting!
I’d like to protest the protest of the protest, but I think that would require me to take a knee while I burn my phone as one of their protest videos plays and that seems like an awful lot of work, so I’m just going to pass on that idea. I’ve decided instead to come up with a few alternative ideas to these protest protests and not one of them is nearly as bad for the environment as burning synthetic materials.
1.) Talk to an actual person of color – I notice some of these fellas saying that they aren’t racists. They are completely and totally against racism. Some may cite their black friends as proof of the fact that they are totally and completely not racist. But I’m just kind of wondering if these completely not racist angry white men who are burning things in their backyards have actually sat down with one of their black or brown friends or coworkers and had an honest and frank discussion about what it is like to be a person of color in America.
Now, I might suggest that if your black or brown friend or coworker sees your video, you foaming at the mouth with a can of lighter fluid and matches in one hand and a stack of thousands of dollars worth of season tickets in the other, flames shooting up to the sky, they might be a little hesitant to want to approach you and tell you about their feelings on racism. You may want to be the one to extend the offer and, by all means, invite them to a well lit public space, perhaps a restaurant with lots of witnesses, er people.
If you are genuinely opposed to racism and love and support your friends of all colors, this is a great place to start. For instance, you could ask your friends of color: How many times have you been pulled over by the police since you got your license? Have you ever personally experienced racism? What does it feel like to be a nonwhite in this country? Just these three questions alone may open you up to a worldview that you never knew existed. At worst, you had a cup of coffee with a friend and it only cut into your jersey burning time by an hour or so.
2.) Stop using ‘the Irish Catholics were discriminated against too’ argument – I’ve heard this argument my entire life. My father was the son of an Irish Catholic immigrant, after all. And, I’m not saying this didn’t happen. It certainly did. My father witnessed the struggles his father went through firsthand. It’s happened to all types of people at some point in time. I’m just saying that maybe it has been a little easier for the blue-eyed, freckled faced folks of the world to get by in life since the 1930’s. We didn’t have to volunteer our religion or ancestry. Colin Kaepernick can’t pretend he’s not black. Just a thought you might want to ponder.
3.) Donate your money to charities that help defeat racism – Colin Kaepernick has taken a lot of grief for bringing this whole taking a knee thing to the forefront of football. Some may even say it has essentially stunted what could have been an otherwise obscenely prosperous career. Many of the people I see complaining about Kaepernick’s “distraction” say that protesters should be doing things that actually reverse the blight of racism. They should take action, not just be paid millions of dollars to drop a knee.
Believe it or not, they actually do, and you can too! Why Colin Kaepernick alone donated $1 million to charities that help minorities. I bet you probably don’t have as much money as Colin does, well Colin doesn’t have as much money as Colin does because he keeps donating it to charity. But you probably have some spare cash, considering the fact that you can just go out, buy stuff, and burn it. So, why don’t you take a little bit of that extra dough and donate it to any of the wonderful charities listed at this link. I mean, you are opposed to racism and all, right? You just want it done the right way. Well, here’s your chance.
4.) Donate your time to help a veteran – I hear you, protester of protesters, you are just looking out for the veterans. They are the ones that fought the wars and gave their time, sometimes even their lives. You are doing it for them! For now, we’ll just ignore the fact that the freedom you speak of them fighting for is actually being displayed by those taking a knee and we’ll focus on what the veterans deserve. They deserve our respect! I am easily inclined to agree with you on that point.
Did you know that only half of the veterans who need mental health support will actually get the help they need? And were you aware that 25% of homeless adults have served in the military?* So, I would imagine if seeing a football player silently protest racial oppression by kneeling during the anthem makes you this upset well you must be doing all you can to eradicate these injustices for veterans. I’m sure you’re visiting wounded soldiers at VA hospitals and voting for legislation that supports the needs of veterans. Well, gosh, of course you are! What was I thinking?
5.) Use your fire pit or grill for its intended purpose – I’m not saying you can’t protest these protests. You have every right to do so and I support that. I’m just saying there’s a better way to go about it. Your backyard on a Sunday afternoon is just not the time nor place for that type of thing. Your fire pit and grill are American symbols of freedom. They should be honored as such. It really just breaks my heart when I see them being used for selfish reasons, outside of their true purpose.
No, seriously! Pick yourself up a bag of marshmallows and a few packs of hot dogs, invite your neighbors over, crack open a few cold ones, and enjoy yourself. Talk about literally anything other than politics and you will have yourself a grand old time and get to know people outside of your bubble. You will also probably find that most of us have the same goals and hopes and dreams. You’ll find everybody’s mom nags them too much and your kids annoy the crap out of you from time to time no matter the color of your skin. We all hate traffic and can easily find one at least one Kardashian to hate on.
It really is just that simple. So try at least one of these ideas in place of burning your tickets and jerseys. You just might find they are way more effective at making the world a better place. Plus, basically zero toxic fumes.
**Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.