Don Rogers: Time to stand up
I’d never take a knee for the national anthem.
And yet I respect the right of Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback, to start the latest wave of non-participation in this ritual.
Calling it a stand against racial oppression or brutality is a bit much, though. Black Americans are far from oppressed, even with the extra challenges they face today and even counting the police shootings.
It would seem, in a weird way, Kaepernick agrees with Donald Trump that African-Americans live in unrelenting hell. Only the demographics don’t stack up that way.
If 24 percent of black citizens live in poverty, well, we’re up to 76 percent who don’t. The poverty rate of all Americans is 13.5 percent. For whites, it’s 9.1 percent.
Obviously, being born white still greatly aids your chances for a better life. The job of building a better society isn’t done, however far we’ve progressed in equal rights from the stain of slavery.
My own family lore includes Civil War Southerners proud their slaves wanted to stay with them when hell broke loose. This self-satisfaction persisted painfully close to the present day.
Donald Trump’s surprisingly strong candidacy concerns me not for the guy’s braggadocio, recklessness or con job on conservatives. No, it’s the George Wallace appeal to way too many of us to Make America White Again. This a great country. We can share in the American Dream, model for the world.
But he’s closer to the truth concerning the police shootings than rather wild-eyed accusations making law enforcement out as no more than an extension of the old, murderous KKK.
The rather brutal statistics for black-on-black violence can’t help but spill over to the police. Still, even in New York City, a tenth of one percent of police officers even draw their weapons, never mind fire at anyone.
The math alone offers scant support for brutality, never mind oppression.
Police have killed twice as many whites as blacks in pretty much any year this millennium. Whites still make up 62 percent of America’s population. Blacks make up 13 percent.
Yes, the odds of a black man being shot by the police indeed are much higher than for a white man. African-Americans get pulled over more, too. I don’t think this happens in a vacuum, though. I do think we’re blaming the wrong villain.
Poverty is the root cause, not color. And not so much the police themselves.
I’m amazed generally at the professionalism of our law enforcement officers sworn to protect society at the possible cost of their lives. Of course some fall short of their oaths. Every occupation suffers from bad apples. But the math suggests strongly the police actually suffer less from this than most.
It also shows the odds of a black man playing on an NFL team are far higher than being shot by the police. The league in which Kaepernick has quite gainful employment may be brutal, but I wouldn’t call 68 percent of the players being black exactly a hallmark of white oppression.
So I respect the right of Kaepernick and the other athletes kneeling in the moment to honor their country — and thereby to insult the vast majority of people of all colors who fight under the flag and with a badge to make us a better country.
But I also find them foolish.
My problem with Kaepernick is not that he’s protesting the powers that be. It’s that he’s acting like a loser. This is the last thing we need. Stand up. Take part, and fight back.
This is your country, too.
Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at email@example.com or 477-4299.
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“There is a cult of ignorance in this country … nurtured by the false notion that ‘my ignorance is as good as your knowledge.'” — Isaac Asimov, 1980.