“Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid, Megan Rapinoe and everyone else who has decided to kneel or sit during the National Anthem, good for you.”
Sincerely, Bailey Carlin, privileged white male.
I keep hearing people say “Are we really still talking about this?” and “Aren’t there bigger issues?”
Are there? Is there a solid argument that any issue is more important than dozens of unarmed black men being gunned down by police officers in the United States of America year after year? The fact that 35 percent of our prisons are filled with black people, even though they only make up 12-13 percent of the United States population?
I can’t name one.
Nobody is saying all police officers are racist.
Nobody is saying that every single one of these black men who are being killed, whose names I will not list in full due to the disgustingly high number and a limit on my word count, are always 100 percent innocent. But I can confidently say that these men deserved the right to a fair and speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The same Constitution, I might add, that our troops, white and black, are fighting to protect. That is not opinion. That is fact.
Kaepernick first garnered national attention on Aug. 26, when he did not stand for the National Anthem during a preseason NFL football game. The moment he did that, a conversation started. A conversation that I hope continues. A conversation that ignorant people who do not understand that #BLACKLIVESMATTER does not mean white lives do not.
What many people are trying to get us to understand is that black lives matter TOO.
My white life has always mattered in America, but for so long, and still in the eyes of entirely too many people today, my black friends, colleagues, classmates and professors’ lives do not.
Does Kaepernick kneeling directly cause monumental change? No, but that is OK. Nothing can.
I sat on the stairs in the Angell College Center for roughly two hours Sept. 27, during a #blacklivesmatter silent sit-in protest hosted by my peers. I watched countless numbers of white students roll their eyes, step over my fellow classmates who lay down in protest, make comments under their breath about how annoying this protest was and more during that two hour span. I made a point to make mental notes of the faces of all these students. In Yokum 200 Tuesday night, for a Black Lives Matter town hall style meeting, I saw none of those faces in attendance. Not one. And I promise you I looked carefully.
These people do not want to have this conversation. They do not want to accept the reality of what is going on in our society today. They do not want to accept the consequences of centuries of oppression dealt out by hands the same skin color as my own — white.
That is why Kaepernick keeps kneeling. This is why we are still talking about it. Because nothing has even been close to being resolved.
I will never know what it is like to be black in today’s society. What I do know is that I am not comfortable ignoring the opinions of those who are. Who am I to decide if a cause is just? Who am I to decide if a protest has an impact?
You want to stop talking about why Kaepernick is kneeling? Make a change. Attend campus events. Go through diversity training. Read articles from black media sources. Talk to black people and ask them what you can do. Maybe if we get more people than not to take some of these steps more people will learn what the Black Lives Matter movement is truly about.
Bailey Carlin at firstname.lastname@example.org