Tag Archives: dissent

They serve so they could kneel

Without debate, without criticism no administration and no country can succeed and no republic can survive.

John F. Kennedy

Men and Women for centuries have worn the uniform, fought the fight and gave the ultimate sacrifice for our right to peacefully protest. Let no man silence the voice made possible through this sacrifice. Keep America great

Happy Memorial Day 

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They Don’t Really Care About Us

January 21,2009 an Barack Obama an African American took the oath of President of the United States of America and many declared the end of racism. But after watching that man, despite his grace and dignity, attacked for eight years straight. After watching that man have to prove he was an American. After watching the man who led the charge to discredit his citizenship ride a way of hate and division to the White House in 2016 and his appointment of Jeff Sessions who immediately took up the task of rolling back gains made in the battle for racial equality. After seeing case after case of police brutality go unpunished. After seeing people march through Charlottesville chanting racial epithets it’s clear racism was never over. It was simply simmering underground waiting for the right person and the right time to show itself again. Don’t misunderstand as a country we have made strides and we are clearly in a better place now but we still have a long road ahead of us and there can be no doubt that there is a segment of the population, many who wield power, that really don’t care about us.

I am the victim of police brutality, now
I’m tired of bein’ the victim of hate
You’re rapin’ me of my pride
Oh, for God’s sake
I look to heaven to fulfill its prophecy…
Set me free

Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, the Cleveland, Ohio, police officers involved in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014, were not charged.
Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City police officer who held Eric Garner in a chokehold before his death in 2014, was not charged.

Some things in life they just don’t wanna see
But if Martin Luther was livin’
He wouldn’t let this be

Sept. 22, 2017 Trump called on all NFL owners to “fire” all protesting players . The president also referred to the protesting players as “sons of bitches.”

October 31, 2017 Papa John’s CEO and founder slammed the NFL, blaming the league’s “poor leadership” on the pizza chain’s sales slump. “We are totally disappointed that the NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation

Beat me, hate me
You can never break me

1967 – World champion boxer Muhammad Ali used his worldwide star power to take a stand against the Vietnam War by refusing to enlist in the military.

1968 – After winning gold in the 200-meter sprint at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Tommie Smith raised his fist in the air alongside his teammate and bronze medalist, John Carlos. As Smith explained to ABC Sports announcer Howard Cosell, “My raised right hand stood for the power in black America. Carlos’ raised left hand stood for the unity of black America. Together they formed an arch of unity and power.”

2014 – NBA teams broke dress code rules to protest police brutality, wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirts during warm-ups. The shirts referenced the last words of Eric Garner before he died at the hands of a police officer in Staten Island.

Beat me, bash me
You can never trash me
Hit me, kick me
You can never get me

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 3 1963- Fire hoses and police dogs were used here today to disperse Negro students protesting racial segregation.

Selma, Ala., March 7 1965 – Alabama state troopers and volunteer officers of the Dallas County sheriff’s office tore through a column of Negro demonstrators with tear gas, nightsticks and whips here today to enforce Gov. George C. Wallace’s order against a protest march from Selma to Montgomery. At least 17 Negroes were hospitalized with injuries and about 40 more were given emergency treatment for minor injuries and tear gas effects.

Tell me what has become of my rights
Am I invisible because you ignore me?
Your proclamation promised me free liberty, now
I’m tired of bein’ the victim of shame

When these are the institutions that govern us, when black life is disposable, when black bodies are guilty before and after being proven innocent, when there is no recourse for injustice or even a belief that injustice has been done, when these institutions actively work to push inequality, we are dealing with something much more dangerous than a personal beef with blackness. – Mychal Denzel Smith the New York Times-bestselling author of Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching

The 2016 election was also marked by low turnout, with tens of millions of eligible voters choosing not to participate at all. Yet there has been relatively little discussion about the millions of people who were eligible to vote but could not do so because they faced an array of newly-enacted barriers to the ballot box.  Their systematic disenfranchisement was intentional and politically motivated. In the years leading up to 2016, Republican governors and state legislatures implemented new laws restricting when, where, and how people could vote — laws that disproportionately harmed students, the poor, and people of color. In several instances, lawmakers pushing such policies said explicitly that their goal was suppression of voters who favor the Democratic Party.

All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us
All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us

While most of the examples in this post were of African Americans all people of color suffer from the effects of racism and discrimination   While those in the LGBT community also deal with discrimination every day.  It’s November, election season, if you’re not registered go out and get registered.  Protest and calls for equality are nice but only when our voices are heard at the voting booths can we really make a difference to those who really don’t care about us

Lyrics in italics from Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Really Care About Us

Infringing on my First Amendment rights or are you? It’s complicated

While it is true that most employees in this country are at will and thus can be dismissed by an employer for any reason and without warning. It is a slippery slope when an employer begins to control an employee’s right to free speech on said employees free time. Case in point ESPN suspending Jemele Hill for her recent tweet pertaining to the anthem “protest” which she did on her own time and own twitter account. Is ESPN infringing on Ms. Hill’s first amendment rights? Do they have the right to control her speech if she is not doing it on their airwaves? And if we were to say they have no right to suspend her then are we also ready to defend the racist who gets fired after tweeting the N word on their own time and account. See not so simple but it still is a slippery slope as it pertains to the first amendment or is it.  The part of the First Amendment that pertains to freedom of speech came about due to the past practices of the King of England, who would imprison or otherwise punish political dissenters. Our founders realized a cornerstone of freedom was the ability to speak freely and without fear of the government penalizing them.  The key word in that explanation is government.  The amendment guarantees the government would not prohibit or penalize any individual for speaking freely. it does not say a business can not make its own rules as it pertains to its employees and their speech’s impact on that business.  So in theory ESPN and for that matter NFL owners have the right to expect their employees will adhere to rules about what they can and can not say in public if they believe it reflects badly on the business’ bottom line   Whoa! That sounds like if you choose to work for a company you basically forfeit your right to speak freely if the company doesn’t agree with your viewpoint.  Yep that exactly what I believe it means.  Complicated?  Yes like most issues in America  it’s complicated.  All we can really do is ensure that employers don’t abuse this by hitting those who do in the pocketbook through boycotts and other type of peaceful actions that have negative financial impacts to their companies and brands.   Because no matter how you interprete the First Amendment if you allow employers to go unchecked in their attempt to thwart progress by looking to silence rather than engage in meaningful conversation the voices of dissent change will never happen. Because only when the masses rise up and in one voice demand change will change take place.

The enemies of progress

It is easy to spot the enemies of progress those who are afraid of change. They are the ones who change the narrative to trick you and look to silence rather than engage in meaningful conversation the voices of dissent.

Stay true to the message and refuse to be silenced. Because only when the masses rise up and in one voice demand change will change take place.

America – Status: its complicated

You say it is disrespectful to our servicemen and women but you wouldn’t give up one football Sunday to volunteer at the VA hospital.

You say it is disrespectful to the flag but you turn a blind eye to the basic tenants the flag represents. Such as All men are created equal and individual Liberty: The principle that each person is born with freedom from arbitrary or unjustified restraint.

America is a complicated country founded on the principle that all men are created equal while at the same time it was openly embracing slavery and allowing legalized discrimination until as recently as the 1960s. Full of so called patriots who embrace our military but at the same time are willing to turn a blind eye toward the problems many soldiers encounter after they return home. A country whose richness was built upon the various contributions of immigrants whose diversity is one of its strongest qualities yet still has a large group of people who reject immigration and segregate themselves in their own communities afraid of the unknown from a different race or culture.

Despite all its flaws America remains the greatest country in the world but it can be better. We as a people are tasked with ensuring that it reaches its unlimited potential. To achieve that promise it is sometimes necessary for the people to engage in Nonviolent resistance to facilitate social change through symbolic protests and civil disobedience. Every time this is done there will be those who disapprove those who wish to keep the status quo but as Richard Dawkins said

“when two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong.

We should never be afraid to raise our voice against injustice it is our moral responsibility to see that our country live up to principles it was founded on. To do any less would to be complicit in the failure of the promise that is America. As H.L. Mencken so eloquently stated

“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”

So continue to shine a light on social injustice. Continue to demand that America live up to her promise. Reject those who would have you simply accept the status quo. After all dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

Changing the narrative yet again

The narrative has been lost. It was never about the flag or patriotism it was about social injustice and police brutality. But the fact is that topic makes people uncomfortable and no one likes to be uncomfortable, they rather close their eyes or change the narrative then confront the ugly truth and look for ways to improve it. But since our current President has decided to change the narrative, because social injustice is an issue he appears to be squarely on the wrong side of the debate on, and make this about patriotism I thought I remind him of the words of James Baldwin. If he can somehow grasp the meaning of Baldwin’s words then maybe he will understand what it really means to be a patriot.

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Silence does not equal Patriotism

Love it or leave it. So has gone the refrain from many in response to San Francisco Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest of sitting for the National Anthem. Kaepernick has stated that “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Kapernick isn’t the first and he won’t be the last high profile athlete of color to speak out against the treatment of people of color in America and while you can choose to agree or disagree with the matter in which he chooses to protest you cannot voice displeasure with his right to protest and simultaneously say you stand for the principles on which this country was built.

“If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.”— George Washington, first U.S. president

The crux of the public outcry over Kaepernick’s protest centers around his patriotism and as an extension the patriotism of those who support him, especially those in the African-American community. Lost in the uproar of Kaepernick’s decision to sit for the National Anthem are the very real concerns that triggered his decision in the first place, central among them police brutality. Anyone that has read my blog knows that I have the upmost respect for law enforcement and the job they perform every day. You also know that I recognize that the police department is an institution like any other and is therefore susceptible to have with-in its ranks a few bad apples. Regrettably we have seen that the abuses of those bad apples disproportionately impact communities of color. To remain silent or to condemn those who speak out on these issues neither shows bravery nor can be seen as a sign of support to the police departments across the country as silence only emboldens the few evildoers and devalues the good accomplished by the many. In the case of police brutality those among us who do speak up do not do so to see police departments across America dismantled or police officers targeted. Rather it is because we believe that the institution of policing is one that is better than to allow itself to be sullied by those who do not deserve to wear the uniform and when those who abuse their power are allowed to continue that abuse because of the silence of the masses we become despondent at the system in general.

“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”
― H.L. Mencken

Now there are those of you who will say – Ok I hear you but sitting for the Anthem? Dishonoring the flag? There has to be a better way to get your point across? To me no matter how you slice it Kaepernick’s actions and those who support those actions are unpatriotic? Maybe one could see it that way until you recognize that the African-American experience in this country is a unique one and patriotism is part of that unique experience. We did not leave our homeland seeking a better life for ourselves and our families rather we were taken forcibly from our home and brought to this “new world” in chains landing on the shores of Jamestown in 1619 as slaves and remaining as such for 246 years until 1865. During that period our history, our language, our culture, our very identity were all stripped from us. Today we cannot look to a specific country and call it home rather we can only look to the African continent as a whole and wonder who and what we once were. With our culture robbed from us we forged a new culture, a new identity here in America. Everything the African American is today is born of this country. One could say more than any other group, save the American Indian, America is OUR country and time and time again we have shown that by putting our lives on the line to defend her. In fact we are the only people to fight for the right to put our lives on the line in defense of this country.

When we were slaves, when our men were beaten, our women raped, and our families ripped apart and sold off as property we fought for this country’s independence.

When we were freed from the bonds of slavery but still denied basic fundamental rights supposedly guaranteed to all men in this country such as education and the right to vote we fought for this country.

When were held down by the institution of Jim Crow and terrorized by groups like the Ku Klux Klan we fought for this country.

We fought and we did so with one simple belief, that despite all we have endured this country, OUR country, would one day live up to its promise, live up to the words on which it was based – that all men are created equal.

“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” – James Baldwin

The subjects of racism, discrimination, police brutality, etc. may make some uncomfortable. Some may want to quietly turn a blind eye to them. But there will always be the brave who rather than standing for the status quo will use the freedom of speech afforded to them in this country to push America to live up to her promise to treat all men and women as equals. It is after all the patriotic thing to do.