making a difference

Colin Kaepernick Sits During National AnthemColin Kaepernick’s protest of injustice in America by not standing for the national anthem is absolutely his right, and we are now seeing a few more players following suit in support of his cause. All this is well and good, and while there are many who do not believe this is an appropriate method of voicing his position, how a person chooses to protest and their wiliness to accept any backlash that comes is a matter of their own prerogative and conscience.

Sadly, injustice, intolerance, bigotry and racism are a bane upon civilization that has been with us since man came out of the cave, and will likely be with us for all time. The fight is to push those vile concepts deeper into the abyss.

Kaepernick maintains his stance is one to open a dialogue, get issues to the table for discussion. Problems cannot be solved without communication and to ignore issues is a tacit way of saying they don’t exist and the status quo is just fine, when we all know otherwise.

However, anyone who believes things are not better now than they were 200, 100, 50, or even 20 years ago, is delusional at best.

The question becomes: what dialogue do we want to have and to what end? The problems of injustice in America are not new, ask any Native American, and the very issues Kaepernick is concerned about have been discussed in some manner for decades. Much like the politicians who make grand speeches while poking holes in the air with their finger, discussion may be good for the soul but when does it truly confront a problem?

I have no idea how involved Kaepernick and those who support him are. Hopefully they are more than verbally engaged, but if they are we have not heard about it and we should.

Has he gone to schools and urged children to stay in school and get their education; has he urged them to not use drugs the first time; to not embrace the gangster, street gang mentality and lifestyle; to not embrace a culture that advocates violence and abuse of women; to not pick up a gun and think shooting someone is the way to solve a dispute; to not think engaging in criminal activity is some sort of badge of honor or believe, whatever the circumstances, the world is against you and presenting yourself as a victim makes whatever you do justified?

Has he told young people when a police officer confronts you, follow their directions, put up your hands and stop? Certainly there are bad and abusive cops, just as there are swine in every profession, but even if the officer is in the wrong, don’t create a situation that allows the cop to pull his gun. Cooperate and then take your complaint up the ladder to the proper authorities so they can address the officer’s conduct.

Has Kaepernick explained that life is not fair, but you confront injustice with your own ability, intelligence, hard work and desire to take your life in a positive direction?

Has he pointed out it’s great to aspire to being an NFL quarterback or MBA player, but the odds are against you so going to college and getting an education is a pretty good backup plan?

Perhaps Kapernick has done all these things, and if so that is a much bigger story than him sitting through the national anthem, but frankly we don’t known. If he hasn’t, he should, and this needs to be the story being told.

It is easy to protest, easy to open a dialogue, easy to demand issues be brought to the table for discussion. It is much more difficult to be actively involved and get in the trenches to do the nuts and bolts work of making a difference.

Speech making and talking about problems is fine. But perhaps rather than sitting down, Kapernick and all those who want to fight the injustice in America, would be better served by standing up.

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Ric Latarski

Ric Latarski has written for a variety of publications in the Atlanta area, was a stringer for Time Magazine, did commentary for Georgia Public Radio and wrote the guidebook, Atlanta: 101 Great Choices. He now writes fiction and recently completed his first novel.