I strongly believe that America is the Land of Opportunity. There are more millionaires per capita here than anywhere else in the world. 8,008,000 to be exact.
Only 35,000 of those are Black.
Colin Kaepernick is one of those few.
And he risked it all to make an unpopular political statement criticizing "America, the Great".
He chose not to stand during the playing of the National Anthem because he felt it would have been selfish of him to look the other way while this country continues to oppress Black people and people of color.
I can relate to and respect Colin Kaepernick and others who use one of the biggest platforms in the world and risk their entire professional careers to remind privileged Americans that people of color are treated like step-children in a family where Patriotism and White Nationalism are kissing cousins.
I'm not offended when professional ball players exercise their constitutional rights and draw attention to the fact that while they are privileged enough to make millions of dollars in a country which affords them that opportunity - the general playing field in America isn't even for everyone. The fact of the matter, those athletes are a miniscule fraction of those who make it out of the economic disenfranchisement that is sustained by the racist infrastructure which built America.
I am very appreciative that celebrities like Kaepernick and others have brought to light the maddening hypocrisy which many privileged Americans demonstrate and call Patriotism when I, as a Black man in America, know that same country which we celebrate with the Star Spangled Banner, was built on the backs and with the blood sweat and tears of slaves, my ancestors.
At one time, the Constitution which proclaims "All men were created equal...with liberty and justice for all" also declared that slaves were only 3/5 of a person. (Google "three fifths compromise"). And while I, personally, am grateful to live in America, I find it extremely presumptive that some people who are privileged enough to have never experienced racism believe I and other Black Americans should feel an innate sense of patriotism for a county that kidnapped my ancestors, abused, raped and killed them and continues to systematically oppress us educationally, geographically, economically and socially.
I still find it amazingly ironic that the last sentence of the National Anthem reads "...land of the free and the home of the brave." when at the time it was adopted as the anthem, it would have been more appropriate to say "where the black man's not free and the home of the slaves." And while those aren't real lyrics, the anthem, which was written by a self-admitted and confirmed slave holder has a third verse clearly mentions slavery specifically.
"No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,"
For many years I chose not to stand during the singing of the National Anthem, for all of the reasons I mentioned. It wasn't until post-911, in my late 20s that I changed my mind. I remember realizing then, that no matter how messed up things were in this country for Black people, there were people who would kill us indiscriminately, just for being born American, in a land of opportunity, rights, and privileges.
One of those privileges is being able to choose to stand, or not at the for the National Anthem. That privilege becomes an inalienable right of free speech when that action is a political statement.
And that's what makes this country great.
I am a simple man who has lived a complicated life. The lessons I've learned from the experiences I've been through and the challenges I've conquered have helped me develop a philosophy that life is meant to be lived at a level better than average.
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I thought I knew what setting goals looked like. I believed that I was doing it the right way. But, after attending BTA workshop, I realized that I wasn't asking the right questions and digging deeper within myself to define that answer. I was skimming the surface. I'm grateful for the new insight and the tools to move further faster with my goals. I ask myself everyday, "What am I doing today to advance toward my goals?" Thanks, Jonathan, for your wisdom and spirit!” - C. King
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