By Tim Spiess
Let’s define the issue.
Football players who self-identify as African American or black believe that racial injustice continues to exist in the U.S. and they choose to protest that perceived injustice during the playing of the national anthem and acknowledging the national symbol, the nation’s flag. The racial injustice they claim exists and is detrimental is some form of systematic oppression that ‘hold’s their race down’.
The relevant questions are, are the claims of the protesters valid and if they are, what is the best way to solve the problems associated with those protests?
Let’s take a look at the validity issue first.
If systemic racism really currently existed in the U.S., then no people of the allegedly oppressed races would advance to position of wealth, influence and power. This was true of African Americans in the past, but it is not true today. An African American was voted by the people of the U.S. as President for eight years. There are African American’s on the Supreme Court and in the Senate. There are African American CEO’s in some of the largest corporations in the U.S.
Of course racist individuals exist – those who have animosity towards others based on their race – but those people are a minority and they typically do not occupy positions of power in the U.S. any more. A few bad apples in the barrel does not make it a barrel of bad apples. In like manner, a minority of racists in the U.S. does not make the nation a racist nation. In fact, the nation has laws against racism. If you compare the U.S. to most other nations, you will find that the laws protecting minorities and opportunities for people of all races, are superior to most nations, in some cases, dramatically superior.
Therefore, to protest against systematic or national or governmental racism is simply wrong. Do not confuse personal bigotry with systematic racism. Even if 25% of the people of the U.S. hold racist views (which is probably too high), those individuals by law cannot practice discrimination in governmental positions or business positions. If you want to be clear about what systematic, national or governmental racism looks like, look to South Africa prior to Mandela, or to India now, or to the U.S. prior to the civil rights movement.
For young men of a particular race that are claiming systemic racism yet who themselves are benefitting from that nation’s laws and economic system seems inconsistent at best. How could a nation which systematically oppresses a certain race also provide opportunities and reward members of that race with opportunity and reward that far exceeds the regular citizens of that nation? And if a person of a certain race protests that nation’s perceived oppression of their race while enjoying freedoms and economic advantages that exceed the normal citizens of that nation, it would seem that person is acting in a hypocritical manner. To paraphrase the point, to say, “this nation treats 'my people' worse than other people groups even while I enjoy a celebrity lifestyle and am given many millions of dollars” seems at a minimum contradictory.
Let’s now look at the right ways and wrong ways to solve the problem of a particular race not doing well as other races in the U.S.
The first step is to look closely at the group/’community’/subculture in question to see why they are not doing well. The first place to look is at the beliefs and behavior of the people that make up that group. Do they have wrong or harmful beliefs, behaviors or practices that handicap the group? If they do, then that is the first order of business to address. Until the significant problems of the individuals that make up the group are solved, that group has no leg to stand on to accuse others of being responsible for their problems.
Let’s now address the specific issue of NFL players protesting during the national anthem. If the U.S. did have systematic racism as previously discussed, particularly by the government of the U.S., then protesting racial injustice during the national anthem would be appropriate. However, since the U.S. does not have systematic racism, protesting during the national anthem is at best wrongly divisive.
Choosing to behave in a way that most American’s consider disrespectful of significant national and unifying symbols in order to make a point is at best unwise and at worst wrongly divisive. All groups of people are better if they are unified instead of divided. When the vast majority the people of a nation have chosen to express a unified spirit associated with rituals like singing a patriotic song or acknowledging a national symbol, then the only reasonable view of that majority when someone disrespects that ritual or symbol is to assume they are disrespecting the ‘thing’ which those rituals or symbols stand for, in this case the nation of United States of America.
To protest something – anything – during the national anthem, that is not a problem or injustice by the majority of U.S. citizens, will be rightly viewed as unnecessarily divisive.
Perhaps the NFL players feel guilty that they are celebrity millionaires while the people they know where they came from are regular citizens or in the ‘lower class socio economic’ group. So, the question is, are the many African American individuals who are part of the ‘lower class socio economic strata’ in the U.S. there because of systemic racism, or are they there for different reasons? I think an objective person looking at all the factors would conclude that they are not there due to PRESENT systemic racism. And if past systematic racism played a part in a group’s present condition, what is the best way to fix that? Is it to blame people of a different race who are not racist and did not and would not support racist practices or policies? No, of course not, for that would make those who blame another race, racists themselves!
The best way to fix the problem is twofold. First, address and fix the current self-inflicted problems affecting that racial group or ‘community’ and their subculture. That is the primary responsibility of the individuals who self-identify with that ‘community’. For example, if a certain racial group has a much higher percentage of its children growing up without good father role models, then that problem needs to be fixed.
The second way to fix the problem is for people of one race to support and stand up for individuals of a different race whom they see being treated unjustly (Please note, I said "see being treated unjustly", NOT if a person who incorrectly believes there is great systematic racism in the U.S. and 'feels' there is some racism in the air tonight). If everyone did this, then racism would end fairly quickly.
In regard to the NFL millionaire players, the best way to fix the problem in what they call their ‘community’ is to actually help whom they perceive as the disadvantaged people in their communities, particularly the youth. The NFL players have quite a bit of time and money that they could use to set up programs to help those whom they perceive as disadvantaged youth in their communities. If the African American NFL players who knelt or believe kneeling during the anthem is/was right are NOT actively spending their time and money on programs to address the problems, then they are hypocrites and unwilling to actually do something to fix the problems.
Finally, the problems in the U.S. and in the world all go back to poor or inadequate leadership or role models. We human being desperately need someone to guide us to rise above the foolish things like thinking the color of one’s skin is somehow a significant factor in determining the quality or worth of an individual. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke very well on many things, but perhaps this saying is the most important moral principle he stated, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Until people turn away from the foolishness and darkness of seeing people by the color of their skin instead of the content/quality of their character, nothing will change. Mr. King looked to another Person, which Person helped him rise above his circumstances. That Person is The Light of the world. Until people make Joshua of Nazareth their Leader, they will remain in darkness and unable to significantly overcome their problems.
The solution is not a societal one. Rather, the solution is moral or spiritual and it starts with the individual. Everyone needs to know two things. First, that we set our after-life destiny by the choices we make in this life. Second, that we have a Father who loves us and cares about us. It is a basic fact of human life, that ON AVERAGE, children that have good dads who truly love them turn out to be better human beings than those who don’t. So, how can a person get to know the Father of their soul? Get the book that goes right to the source and thus enables people in the clearest way possible, to know their Father and to love Him back!
Book available on Amazon - The Light of the World: The Life and Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth
Or free on this website in PDF here