This is another late-to-the-party thinkpiece about why your Facebook News Feed has been extra awful lately. If you’re not into that, I thank you for your click and wish you the best with the rest of your life.
For the rest of you, I think you know what I’m talking about.
Everyone you’ve ever met has an opinion about the recent uptick in NFL players protesting during the national anthem, and none of them are any good.
Half of of my feed thinks systemic racism is the bee’s knees, and the other half acts like Francis Scott Key has no bars.
What got lost somewhere between our TVs and Facebook, though was what this protest originally started as.
In 2014, there were a number of high-profile deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement. It wasn’t anything new in this country, but social media made the news travel faster and further than ever before.
In the subsequent years, any killings of citizens by civil servants have been put under a microscope, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Responses to these deaths have ranged from peaceful protests and the rise of groups like #BlackLivesMatter, to riots and retaliatory killings of police officers.
Before our nation could properly address the issue at hand, camps began to form. Suddenly, the narrative was that you were either pro-black people not getting shot or pro-police safety.
As you can probably tell, this was less than constructive. In fact, I’d argue that the mutual fear shared between law enforcement and black men in this country is what put us in this mess to begin with.
And we really haven’t learned. Enter Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick was (is? I’m not sure at this point) a dynamic young quarterback more than capable of holding a roster spot in the NFL. Now he doesn’t have a job.
Kaepernick began last season by taking a knee during the national anthem as a way to protest the treatment of African Americans and other minorities in this country.
Again, this act wasn’t unprecedented.
There’s a clear history of athletes making statements during the anthem.
It’s important to remember that none of these protests are as offensive as Carl Lewis actually trying to sing.
Derrick Coleman really makes that video something special.
Back to Kaepernick motives, it’s important to understand that they’re not very controversial. “Stop killing black people” is only a hot take if you also enjoy casual cross-burnings in your spare time.
Unfortunately, the narrative was twisted again. Because NFL players were protesting during a ceremony that has become increasingly intertwined with the American military, those who wanted to stifle their message made it about the troops.
And you’ve got to support the troops.
So that’s why all of your casual acquaintances from high school are fighting so passionately on Facebook right now. What should have been a discussion about race in this country has turned into a debate about whether we should care more about the troops or minorities.
If you’re looking for my honest opinion on this matter, I think we need to stop wrapping ourselves in the flag every time the country is criticized.
I think the United States is the greatest country in the world. I have more opportunity here than I would anywhere else, but it doesn’t mean this place is infallible.
If enough people can identify a problem, it costs nothing to explore possible solutions, even if you don’t think the problem exists. Once a situation is fully delved into, then you can take actions toward self improvement.
But that’s hard. It’s much easier to entrench yourself in a camp and argue online.
I only ask that you try it, just this once, before you hit that publish button.