"Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage."
~ Maya Angelou
I will be participating in what I hope will become a nationwide strike and boycott by all black Americans and our supporters on November 3, 2016, Colin Kaepernick's 29th birthday, in support of Colin Kaepernick's protest and Black Lives Matter. Let's call it "A Day Without Black People."
On November 3, 2016, I will not be going to work. That's the strike. I will also not be spending any money. That's the boycott. If I had children, I would keep them out of school.
Clearly the problems of African Americans -- injustice and murder at the hands of the criminal justice system -- are considered aberrations and not AMERICAN problems. We're told to leave if we don't like America and that Kaepernick's protest is unpatriotic and anti-military. Clearly America doesn't see African Americans as Americans. America doesn't see our problems as American problems. America doesn't see anything wrong with how we are treated in America.
So I think America needs to know what America it looks like without black people, if only for a day.
I understand that not everyone has the luxury of taking a day off work. Here's what you can do if you can't afford to take the day off:
1) If you can't strike, don't spend any money that day.
2) Take a selfie of yourself taking a knee -- wearing Kaepernick's jersey if you can -- and post it on your social media with one or more of these hashtags:
3) Have a moment of silence in your workplace or home for all of the black lives lost at the hands of the police and vigilantes like George Zimmerman. Say their names and pray for them.
4) If you must spend money, write "Black Lives Matter" on your bills when you spend them.
5) Tell everyone on social media that you support A Day Without Black People, even if you aren't black and/or can't take the day off.
6) Have the conversation with co-workers, family and friends about Kaepernick's protest. Here are some talking points when you hear the usual arguments:
a) Argument; It's disrespectful to not stand for the national anthem.
Answer: The NFL only began playing the national anthem consistently when the military started sponsoring military displays at NFL games. The Supreme Court has upheld as constitutional the right not to salute the flag or engage in shows of patriotism. When a nation does not live up to its own standards, the people have a right to peacefully protest to hold the nation accountable. That is what Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter are doing.
b) Argument: If you don't like America, you should leave.
Answer: As African Americans, we are a stolen people in a stolen country. The only people who have the right to tell anyone they should leave American are Native Americans. Besides, the blood and sweat of our ancestors built this country and the economy on whose backs your people profited. If anyone should leave, it is the slavers and their ancestors, not the stolen and enslaved and their ancestors.
I believe in my country and the ideas for which it stands, including equal justice under law. I most certainly will not leave, but will stay and make my country live up to its values. If everyone left when the country fell short of living up to its values, the country would fall apart. Right now, my country is not living up to its values.
c) Argument: Kaepernick should do his protest on his own time.
Answer: What Kaepernick is doing is not illegal, and he is doing it peacefully. Would you be saying the same thing if you agreed with what he is protesting for?
I'll be the first to admit: I supported what Colin Kaepernick was protesting for, but I didn't support his method, or the method of Black Lives Matter, for that matter. I felt that a protest without a clear goal, e.g., the end of a war, the passage of legislation, would be never-ending and ineffective. Given the backlash against Kaepernick -- calling him unpatriotic, saying that if he doesn't like America he should leave, saying he should just shut up and play -- I believe that the effort to silence Kaepernick is an effort to silence all black people. It takes a lot for a young black man to be as courageous as Kaepernick is being and take the heat for it. So here is my individual effort to be as courageous as Colin Kaepernick for all my people. Instead of being a drum major for justice like Dr. King told us we could be, let's support Colin Kaepernick and be quarterbacks for justice.
See you -- or rather, I won't be seeing you -- on November 3.
Labels: A Day Without Black People, Black Lives Matter, Black Out, Colin Kaepernick, Dr. King, Maya Angelou, Quarterback for Justice, Taking a Knee On November Three