San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the National Anthem on Friday, protesting the treatment of blacks and other minorities in America. The quarterback 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.” He went on to say that, “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” If you agree with the American Revolution, you must agree with Colin Kaepernick. If you believe Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry and George Washington were justified in their protests, you must also concede that their grievances are minor compared to those Kaepernick is highlighting. Colon Kaepernick just completely shitted on the American Revolution.
Last week the Justice Department announced plans to phase out its use of privately run prisons and we cheered. Private prisons, after all, are the devil. The industry profits from incarcerating people; that profit motive has led the industry to lobby state legislatures to pass laws that keep prison beds full–disproportionately with black and brown people. But the real issue isn’t private prisons. Mass incarceration would not end if they disappeared, nor would black and brown communities be made whole. The real issue is that black and brown people are unnecessary in the eyes of corporate America. The economy of today is getting along just fine without the incarcerated and until that changes mass incarceration will remain a viable option, with or without private prisons.
Simone Biles and Simone Manuel stole our hearts with Olympic gold. Black America cheers them fiercely because their rare and historic accomplishments have much deeper meaning than sport. But when we cheer the Simones are we actually cheering for the United States? Or are we cheering on two black women who happen to be from the Houston area? In Houston the median income of blacks is roughly half that of whites. Such disparity indicates that the Simones and the rest of us live in two separate Americas. Living in separate Americas creates separate identities and as such we are capable of rooting for the same person but not necessarily the same America. After the games have ended, we should remember this and keep rooting for ourselves.
18-year-old Paul O’Neal was shot in the back and killed while fleeing from police in Chicago recently– yes, shot in the back while running away. Chicago police have released video of the incident but conveniently, that little part of the actual shooting isn’t available because the camera belonging to the officer who fired the shot was off. All too often the cameras are off or “malfunctioning” during these critical moments and yes, we think it’s intentional. Every. Single. Time. Last year in Oklahoma a cop was was caught on a body camera saying to his colleagues, “turn it off” before they commenced beating a suspect who stole from a Dollar General. Yes, Dollar General. We believe every instance is just as shady. Why wouldn’t we? Our history with law enforcement leaves us no other choice.
After the shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling many black folks decided they’d had enough. Overnight, black banks received a surge of new deposits. In a five day period in July, Citizen’s Trust Bank in Atlanta opened 8,000 new accounts! Industrial Bank in Washington opened over 1,500 new accounts with deposit balances of approximately $2.7 million in the last month, according to their Facebook page. So what now? Moving our money is necessary and a radical act of protest for sure but movements change the world, not momentary protests.