Take a knee

by Ike Emeche

From what I’ve read in the news these days, the nation is more divided than ever. While I won’t say if I think that’s necessarily the case in this article, I feel that more people are speaking up about these issues and shining light on it. I want to start with something we have all seen before: controversial comments made by President Trump. During a political rally in Alabama on Sept. 22, the president made remarks about athletes in the NFL protesting. He said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired. He’s fired!’” Total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for. Everything that we stand for.”

I won’t even begin to talk about the racially encoded language of what he said, that’s for another time. What I’d like to point out is that most of these owners that work in majority black leagues like the NFL or NBA, are white. It’s a personalized message given to the team owners saying that they need to keep their athletes in their place, and fire them if they practice their right to call out this unjust system.

Why is he attacking black athletes for speaking up and protesting a country whose roots are embedded in slavery? A country that seems to ignore history and push progress without taking into consideration why people are protesting? Isn’t protesting an American right? Growing up, I always heard about the “American Way,” and speaking up. Using “your First Amendment” right was always encouraged, except if you speak out about race and equality. I guess you have to be white and talk about only issues that mostly only white people care about to be heard.  

But when black people and other people of color speak out about fixing systematic inequalities, it’s met with vitriol and hate. Just look at any comment section online under the stories like this. Let me break it down: if a system is flawed, people need to draw attention to those flaws. This happens all of the time; America was literally built on this same thinking.This is done at work, school, even in our homes.

My question to Trump and those who are so angry towards these peaceful protests is this: Do you love your privilege so much, despite it being built on slavery, and destruction of others that you’d deprive people of their right to want privilege to change? So much that when people are shedding light on it, you do everything in your power to tear them down? These people need to open a history book. This shows how Trump and a lot of people in America are ignorant to the racial underpinnings of our society.

Although he didn’t state any athletes by name, we know that majority of the players in those leagues are black, so there’s where the attack becomes personal. It demonizes black athletes and the need for social justice, just because they aren’t paying due respect through American traditions masked over white supremacist ideals. It seems like people in this country don’t want to deal with it or talk about it. I’ve even noticed it on this campus as well. As a Person of Color (POC), not acknowledging this is saying that our voices don’t matter and that we’re defaulted to live in a white-dominated culture. Most of these foundational “American” values were made when POC didn’t have a say. So then why do you meet our concerns with confusion?

Contact Ike Emeche at iemeche17@my.whitworth.edu