It was the early 1970’s. We were all angry. About the war and the draft, about gender inequity that stalled every woman’s career, about the gas lines due to the oil crisis in the middle east, about the crippling inflation, about having to wear ties or even bras. We grew our hair long, listened to album length tracks, questioned those in authority, forced a resignation from a corrupt President, and sat out in student strikes all across this great nation. Resistance happened from family’s living room to the illustrious Senate floor. My own father, who worked his way up from the floor boards of poverty faced a mob every night at dinner with his young adults who questioned his authority, his decisions, his motives, even his tomorrow. Thankfully for us under his care he came to value our resistance. Not easily. It meant he had to listen. Temper his own self. See the big picture. He too questioned. Sought truth. He read the newspapers, listened to other’s opinions, remembered history, and understood the value of debate. Where is that America? Where is the freedom of speech we wave about when we think it will benefit us? Anger we have, but let the voices ring.
In our living room, there was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His image and words filled our evening news and daily newspaper. His ideas were heralded on our house, although there was no mistake that we lived in a country still “sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression“, suffering under “The darkness of racial injustice“. How anyone can think, especially after the eight years the Obamas endured such outward contempt, that the stench of racism has cleared, I don’t really understand. We have crept along, but haven’t gotten far enough.
I can’t really preach it. I am a privileged white woman living in one of the whitest states we got. Sure I am lesbian, but I can walk into any store, drive through any neighborhood, even strut into a fancy Palm Beach private club, and no one bats an eye. I pass on through. What do I know about systematic hatred? Thankfully I am not blind, and I can read, and I sadly can attest to exactly why Kaepernick took a knee. Despite my entitlement, I am not offended. I am ashamed to be a part of a country where the KKK and the Nazis can still gather in daylight to plot their versions of hate, but a simple man, one with some ability and clout, and nerve, drops to the ground in humility, and asks us to consider, is this really the best we can offer those around us? Those of color? Living in constraint? Living through painful decades with little reason to hope for change? While we drink another round, and cheer another toss toward the goal line, might they, might he, be considered? Kaepernick and others did not raise a fist or a gun, did not collude with Russia or rig an election, but instead, took a moment to point out, on one knee, hey, defenseless black boys are being gunned down in this bountiful country that we share. He hoped we might say, let’s all end this, together, thanks for the respectful reminder, and for playing this ballgame for our enjoyment. Thanks for your bravery. Stand up brother. We got this.
It is really insidious what the Republican party has done this last year. Their support of Trump is cowardly at best. At worst it speaks of their hatred for all that is good in this world. Like equality. Like shared truth. Like education. Like taking care of the next generation, as well as our elders. All they are busy doing is shielding the bloat king from his inevitable fall. The bravery of the 1970’s Republicans eludes them. They stand in an odd allegiance with someone no one would want as a family member, or the guy dating their sister, and certainly not your boss. He lies to us. He shouts down the dissenters. He doesn’t have the moral fiber to allow you to be you. My father would have cried tears of blood watching those NFL players doing the little they could do, and still having to face the rage of people unable to get off their couch to shut the game off. My father would have taken to the streets over the lack of information, the tweeter strands of lies, and the regular embarrassment of the White House. He would have allowed the anger. The rage. And he would have let it ring out until that shrill sound of discontempt brought a real and generous change.
Tonight I wonder what I am willing to do. What you are willing to do. For starters, I think I’ll buy something made by Nike.